The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Is my smart device listening to me? The Post’s Help Desk answers your questions.

(Nico189 for The Washington Post)

Here at The Washington Post, we report on the many ways Big Tech takes your personal data — and your attention — to turn a profit.

This week, we announced Help Desk, a whole new team of Washington Post journalists dedicated to reporting trusted advice about personal tech. We answer the important questions: How does tech affect your privacy, your security, your family, your health, the environment and, yes, even democracy?

Put simply, we’re here to hold these companies accountable for the products you interact with every day. But that starts with you — the reader. We want to answer your questions about the apps and algorithms in all our lives.

Have a question about the products you use every day? The Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler, Tatum Hunter, Heather Kelly, Chris Velazco and Danielle Abril are members of the Help Desk and answered your questions on Thursday.

Geoffrey A. Fowler last month exposed the privacy price of Facebook and wrote a guide to stopping it from tracking you. Tatum Hunter recently reported on the rise in pandemic-related phishing scams and the signs to look for in your inbox. Chris Velazco just reviewed Facebook’s “smart glasses,” and the security questions these spectacles raise. Heather Kelly wrote a guide about conserving your phone battery during a natural disaster. And Danielle Abril wrote about how the new abortion law in Texas is making tech workers wary and leading them to rethink their moves to the state.

Read the full transcript below.

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Teddy Amenabar, an editor on The Post’s audience team, produced this Q&A.

Help Desk: Making tech work for you

Help Desk is a destination built for readers looking to better understand and take control of the technology used in everyday life.

Take control: Sign up for The Tech Friend newsletter to get straight talk and advice on how to make your tech a force for good.

Tech tips to make your life easier: 10 tips and tricks to customize iOS 16 | 5 tips to make your gadget batteries last longer | How to get back control of a hacked social media account | How to avoid falling for and spreading misinformation online

Data and Privacy: A guide to every privacy setting you should change now. We have gone through the settings for the most popular (and problematic) services to give you recommendations. Google | Amazon | Facebook | Venmo | Apple | Android

Ask a question: Send the Help Desk your personal technology questions.