Console privacy settings - protect your PS5, Xbox Series X, or Switch

You might've received a Switch as a gift or picked up an Xbox Series X for yourself, or even been lucky enough to scoop a PlayStation 5, and if you did, you'll want to get stuck into your games right away. But, it's a good idea to set aside some time to comb through your console's privacy settings.

You'll be able to control who can see your personal info and the games you're playing, as well as determine how much data your console collects. Unfortunately, a lot of the default privacy settings aren't all that private. But I'll look at the most important options for PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch in this post, as well as the steps you can take to deal with trolls or other abusive players.

 

PlayStation 5 privacy settings

Let's start with Sony! Since the launch in late 2020, gamers around the world have struggled to get their hands on a PlayStation 5. So, why would you want to spend your time in menus and settings when you could be enjoying the PS5's ray tracing, haptic feedback, and super-quick loading times?

Taking a dip into the PS5's privacy settings doesn't take all that long, however, and could save you some trouble further down the line.

⚙️General settings

To get started, head into the PS5's Settings menu and select Users and Accounts. Then, hit Privacy, View and Customize Your Privacy Settings, and there you'll see all the options that you can tweak.

I'd recommend mulling over whether you want your full name on display. Cross-platform harassment is a very real concern in gaming spheres, and displaying your real name on your console could point harassers and trolls toward your other online profiles. It's also possible to adjust whether compatible games display your real name or your PSN handle.

Speaking of friends, you might find that you get recommended to your friend's friends, which is something to keep in mind if you do go by your full name – it'll be visible to people you potentially haven't met. And, if you'd rather people not be able to check out your friends list, you can adjust this setting in the Your Information tab.

Hop into the Your Activity menu to determine who can see your online status – which is great if you don't want to be disturbed. You'll also be able to decide if people can take a peek at what you're currently playing which, again, could be something you opt out of if you'd rather game in peace.

You're probably already aware that people can check out your gaming history (and this is also how Trophy hunting sites track your progress), and no sensitive information is revealed here, but you can certainly make it private if you want!

Once you've adjusted options in the Activity menu, pop into the Communication and Multiplayer menu to configure who can send you friend requests. You'll also need to ask yourself who you're comfortable receiving messages from. Then, set your preference, but remember that if you flip this setting to "No One", it'll block party chat and game invites from your friends.

❌Blocking and reporting

Unfortunately, there's no shortage of rude players and trolls out there, and you'll want to know how to deal with them via your console. Sony has a clear Community Code of Conduct that you can reference to determine whether an instance crosses the line, but if you're unsure, you can just block the person without reporting them.

A team of moderators checks all reports, and they'll decide whether the situation breaches the Code of Conduct and if action needs to be taken. So, you'll need to report the offending message or incident rather than the player themselves – it's all about evidence!

And the PS5 makes it really easy to gather and send this evidence. You can report screenshots and videos, broadcasts, conversations, group names, and even icons.

If you decide to block a player instead, it does pretty much exactly what you'd imagine blocking someone would. The player won't be able to send you any messages or friend requests, or invitations to games. They also won't be able to tune in to your broadcasts or be in a party that you're in. Effectively, it cuts them out of your digital circle.

To block someone, hit the PS button and go to the Control Center, then Game Base. Select the friend from your list or the party, view their profile, and then hit More, and Block.

🎣Data collection

It won't come as a massive surprise to learn that Sony collects info about what you get up to whilst using your console. It's possible to limit the data collection, though, by heading into the Privacy menu, hitting Data You Provide, and selecting your preference.

You'll see an option called "Limited", but... it's not actually as limited as it might seem. In this mode, your PlayStation 5 will still collect info about your internet connection, PlayStation model, region, any device connected to your console, and any ads you click on. And, if your game or app crashes, Sony will collect the error report and diagnostic stats, too.

Obviously, "Full" mode will collect all of the above info and then some. Your PS5 console will be assigned a more unique identifier code that Sony uses to keep tabs on what interests you in the PlayStation Store. But the data collection doesn't stop there – there are some Sony games where how you play and interact with the UI is kept on record!

If you want to limit Sony's data collection even more, head to Personalization (via the Privacy menu) and disable these four options. Doing so reduces how much marketing information is collected and used to show you stuff like tailored ads in the Store, and instead, you'll get way more generic suggestions based on your purchase history.

📱Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) isn't just for your phone and web apps anymore! Most consoles allow you to enable 2FA, the PlayStation 5 included, and you shouldn't wait to be affected by a security breach before you look into it. Remember, your console is a repository of a lot of personal information; think payment methods, your full name, your address, and more. 2FA is a quick and effective way of preventing unauthorized access to your console, and it's really easy to enable.

If you have a PS5, just follow these quick steps:

  1. Head into your Settings
  2. Click Users and Accounts
  3. Select Security
  4. And then hit 2-Step Verification

Xbox Series X privacy settings

If you're an Xbox loyalist, you'll probably be after an Xbox rather than a PlayStation. The Series X is seriously impressive – and seriously powerful. Not only will you be able to enjoy your games in 4K, but there are some exciting Xbox-exclusive titles set to hit the market in the next few years, too!

⚙️General settings

All of the Xbox Series X's most important privacy settings can be found by pressing the Xbox button, then Profile & System. From here, head into the Settings menu and click Account, Privacy & Online Safety, and finally, Xbox Privacy.

If you're in a hurry, you can actually select from three pre-set privacy levels – and these come in especially handy if you're setting up a console (or profile) for a little one or a teenager.

  • Child is the most restricted setting, as you'd imagine, and requires an adult to approve any incoming friend requests. Only approved friends can chat with the player, and no real names are displayed at any time – it's screen names only!
  • Teen gives the player more freedom, allowing them to download free games. Any friends you approve of will be able to check out your profile and activity, too.
  • Adult removes most of these restrictions and allows the player to be as social as they like! Your activity is visible to friends, and there are no limits on what you can download.

I think these settings are good in a pinch, but you'll still want to take some time to sift through the Xbox's remaining privacy options to tailor them to your preferences.

For example, by selecting Profile & System, then Settings, Account, Privacy & Online Safety, and then Message Safety, you can determine who can contact you. These settings can be adjusted for voice, text, and message communications, too.

You'll also be able to manage who can see your real name on your friends list, as well as who can view and comment on your activity feed. Your feed includes game clips, screenshots, and broadcasts, and anyone who checks it out will be able to see other people's comments and share stuff elsewhere – it's like a mini social network! But, you don't have to opt in. To tweak your feed settings, open the Settings menu and head into General, then visit Online Safety & Family.

If you'd rather edit what's appearing in your activity feed, you can! Select the item in question and select More Actions, then Hide. It's possible to hide a game or club, too, by following the same steps and selecting Hide All From This Game (or Club).

Finally, it's up to you whether you'd like to connect your social media accounts to your Xbox Series X. Just pop into Settings, then Account, and you'll be able to tweak your preferences.

❌Blocking and reporting

Just like with the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X gives you the ability to curate your social circle. You can block an unpleasant individual easily enough, and this will stop them from pestering you with game invites, party invites, and messages. Blocked players won't be able to see your online activity either, or find you on their friends list.

To block someone, hit the Xbox button, People, and find the gamertag of the individual – or, if you're not friends with them, select Recent Players or Find. Then, simply visit their profile and select Block or Report.

I like that the Xbox Series X lets you block a person directly via any nasty messages they might send. If you get a crude or offensive DM, hit the Xbox button and visit Parties & Chat, then Message Requests. Find the conversation, click More, View Profile, and then Report or Block.

You might decide that you want to report the person too, and the Xbox makes it incredibly simple to do so. Your details are all kept private, and the Xbox team reviews any and all submitted reports.

🎣Data collection

Right off the bat, you'll want to head into Contact Preferences and remove yourself from Microsoft's mailing list – this way, you won't get pelted with offers.

The bulk of the Xbox's data collection options are located in the Data Collection menu, and you can pick and choose which (if any) modes of collection you're happy with. Bear in mind that you can't opt out of data collection pertaining to store purchases or log-in errors as a result of security issues, seeing as these are pretty integral to the console's operation.

You can, however, stop your console from collecting error diagnostic, network info, and installation data. This is the sort of information that Microsoft uses to recommend new games to you and improve console performance, but you're more than welcome to turn it off – you probably won't notice the difference.

It's also a good idea to pop into the App Privacy menu and tweak these permissions – do you want to allow targeted ads, for example?

📱Two-factor authentication

As I mentioned earlier, two-factor authentication can prevent hackers and thieves from getting into your console and potentially co-opting your financial information to buy things with your money... and make off with some of your personal details. If you want to set up 2FA on your Xbox Series X, it's actually possible to do so in your browser.

  1. Just visit the Microsoft security basics page
  2. Use your credentials to sign in
  3. From there, click Advanced and find Two-Step Verification
  4. Toggle the option on and you're all set

Nintendo Switch privacy settings

The Nintendo Switch is an awesome little console that packs a big punch, and you can carry a tonne of classics, and new releases, around with you wherever you go. Now, there's even a "Lite" version of the console, and new editions of the Switch come with improved battery life, better Joy-Con connectivity, and a slightly bigger screen.

⚙️General settings

Luckily, the Nintendo Switch keeps most of its security settings in one place. Navigate to the Home Menu and click System Settings, and you'll see a handy list on the left of everything you can tweak. There aren't a lot of options here and even fewer privacy settings, but it's still worth customizing them.

So, let's get started. Via the Home menu, click your user icon and then User Settings. From there, navigate to Friend Settings. This is where you can determine who sees your online status! It's cool to share what you're playing, but there might be some days where you'd rather not be disturbed – and you can opt to share your status with Best Friends, everyone or nobody at all. The "No One" option will not notify your friends when you start playing a game.

Of course, if you'd rather keep your games private, remember that your friends can check out your history – including all the content you've checked out recently. If you want to change this, you'll need to head back to your profile and select User Settings, Play Activity Settings, and then find the option to Display Play Activity To. Here, you can take your pick of options, and remember to select "No One" if you want to keep your games to yourself.

❌Blocking and reporting

Blocking and reporting players via the Nintendo Switch follows pretty much the same process as the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. If you've encountered a troll, you'll need to click your icon on the Home menu, then select Add Friend. From here, you can view the players you've connected with previously through the Search For Users You've Played With feature. Then, just search out the individual in question and click Block!

And, as is standard, any users you block on your Nintendo Switch won't be able to reach out to you – this means no more friend requests or in-game matching.

🎣Data collection

Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch doesn't offer the same amount of data collection customization as the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. To adjust your preference, open up the Nintendo eShop and click your profile, then scroll to find the Google Analytics Preferences option. Click it, click Don't Share, and you're all good – this option tracks what you get up to in the store.

It's actually more important than ever to adjust this setting, seeing as the recent 11.0 update for the Switch made sharing data with Google Analytics automatic, regardless of whether you'd previously opted out! Nintendo did not ask for permission to do this, so make sure that you reclaim your agency and decide for yourself.

📱Two-factor authentication

Enabling 2FA on your Nintendo Switch is incredibly important – after all, it's portable, and more likely to be stolen or intercepted by hackers! Having two-factor authentication enabled can stop these crooks in their tracks, however, seeing as they won't have access to the additional security code needed to access the console.

You'll need to open up a web browser to opt in to 2FA for your Nintendo Switch.

  1. Visit your Nintendo account
  2. Sign in, then click Security Settings
  3. There, you'll find that there's an option called 2-Step Verification
  4. Click Edit and enable it to shore up your console

Final thoughts

Remember when you just popped a disc (or a cartridge!) into a console and you were good to go? Those days are over; now, consoles are entertainment systems, connected to the internet, and capable of just about anything a computer is! This is pretty neat, seeing as it helps us stay connected, but keeping so much personal information in these consoles can be dangerous. Your personal information, financial details, and user habits are prime targets for hackers... and the console's parent company's data collection policies.

Fortunately, sifting through your console's privacy settings can both secure your device and bolster your privacy, and you'll learn how to block and report players along the way, too!

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

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