Privacy Reset: A guide to the important settings you should change now
Privacy Reset: A guide to the important settings you should change now

(Nico189 For The Washington Post)

From Facebook to Venmo, staying on top of your privacy starts with these key settings

We all know it’s important to protect our privacy online to prevent things as simple as our birth date or as detailed as our search history from being used by companies, strangers and even governments.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know where to start.

It can seem easier to throw our hands up, decide that nothing is private, and let the targeted advertising gods collect details on our relationship status, political leanings and how many pairs of wide-leg pants we own. But if we give up, we lose control.

Our personal information feeds an entire ecosystem that taps into our likes and unconscious habits to sell us things, shape our relationships and even manipulate our politics. Once that data is out of our hands, we lose power.

The Washington Post’s Help Desk is here to make it as easy as possible to take control of your own data and privacy. We’re starting with settings you can change right now on the biggest sites and services. Since not everyone has the same worries or amount of free time, we’ve broken our advice into three sections so that you can decide how strict you want to be with your privacy settings.

We have gone through the settings for the most popular (and problematic) services to give you recommendations on what exactly you should do. When possible, we focus on changing settings through websites but unless noted, the same instructions should work on individual iOS and Android apps.

Bookmark this page and take five minutes of your day to clean up your settings. Take back power over your information. We will regularly add more companies, tools and tips.

Think we missed a setting? Something no longer accurate? Have another tool you’re worried about? Let us know through the Help Desk form or by emailing

Updated October 25, 2021

Help Desk: Making tech work for you

Heather Kelly is a San Francisco-based reporter covering the ways technology affects everyday life.
Geoffrey A. Fowler is The Washington Post’s technology columnist based in San Francisco. He joined The Post in 2017 after 16 years with the Wall Street Journal. He won the 2020 Gerald Loeb Award for commentary.