How to share your life without being too self-aware

Social notifications

If you get annoying notifications on your phone, don’t be surprised. Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, send small notifications every time a user likes or comment on another person’s post, so you can easily miss it.

When you’re trying to tune out distractions, disable those notifications for as long as you like.

If your device’s privacy features aren’t saving the messages or notifications you don’t want to be distracted by, you can enable “unsend,” which deletes messages sent on your phone from your device within five minutes.

To enable “unsend,” go to Settings, then turn on “Delete sent messages” and “Delete sent messages in the future” in separate tabs.

For many smartphone users, setting up Wickr has eliminated the need to constantly check your inbox. Even though Wickr’s not totally perfect, a quick press of the send button sends messages to a customized Google Cloud storage system, preserving the company’s privacy policies for up to five years (it’s unclear how long a Facebook message can be stored).

If you’re interested in personalized information, Wickr allows you to invite others to get that kind of “feel” through Messenger, which is similar to Facebook Messenger.

If you’re into a more cartoonish social experience, you can choose to “real-time” chats. If you decide to “real-time” your messages and photos with strangers or people you don’t know (or have invited), you will receive a public message stream for all interested users. Other messages you send will then appear publicly and immediately after they’re sent, and you will receive a one-month pass on your contacts’ messages. Your contacts will keep receiving your messages, but there will be no public sharing of your own content.

Privacy settings

When you’re a public figure, you may think about how you shield yourself from the eyes of the public. But how do you protect yourself from monitoring and privacy invasions by, say, a politician?

Strict privacy settings can certainly be an option for you, but that’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do in a world where things can be shared by accident.

It’s true that using the same privacy settings can make things safer and easier to manage for you, but others can’t control everything in the same way.

The best option to guard yourself from unwanted checks is to create multiple privacy settings for your private communications—sharing some messages and setting the message and photo content that gets shared. You also can use third-party programs to manage who is authorized to read your messages and who can view your private content.

Users of Wickr, for example, can use their phone’s microphone to send special messages to friends. The audio can only be heard by the recipient’s iPhone or Android smartphone. But while the sender control might be the same, the receiver controls everything else: the recipient is also responsible for the delivery of the message, even if the message is sent with audio.

Trustees are sometimes able to play right into the hands of privacy snoopers with the wrong intentions: In 2011, an Illinois middle schooler was prosecuted for using a program to send an email to other students in the class on which had earlier sent a private photo to his friends.

Tips for doing a better job

Those using privacy apps for messaging, sharing photos, and more can take advantage of their capabilities. Keep an eye on social media platforms’ policies, and check with your friends’ privacy settings to see whether they’re keeping up. Consider making sure all of your privacy settings are up to date for each individual message.

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