We live in a world of defaults. Each of our apps, each of our accounts, and each of our devices, have nearly endless settings and options, and we often don’t have the time or interest to investigate and understand and modify them. So we take the defaults way more often than we customize.
The defaults are supposed to be right, or at least reasonable. They’re supposed to be what most people want or need. And functionally, they usually are – they allow the software or device or account to function as intended.
But the default settings that relate to privacy, aren’t serving us well. They’re not what most people want or need. They’re not right or reasonable. They’re almost always slanted away from privacy and towards the economic benefit of the company that set them. Living with the privacy defaults is living without privacy.
This creates a burden. It means you have to spend time and energy to learn which settings to change, and then change them. It means that some features or behaviors change because you’re not using the defaults anymore.
The good news is that, relatively speaking, it’s easy to make a huge change to take back your privacy. Turning off third-party cookies in your browsers is a great example – the default should be off (as it is in Safari) but Chrome and Firefox make you click a few times to turn off a feature that gives you nothing but costs you a lot.
There are hundreds of other examples – in your browser, in your OS, in Facebook and Twitter, etc. The calculus on the part of the product managers who decided on these default is: most people won’t bother to change these, but we can say we gave them the choice.
Don’t live by default. Assume that each app and account you have is counting on you to be too lazy to go change a few settings. Disappoint them. Invest the few minutes it takes to opt-out of privacy abuse.