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How to avoid being tracked online


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How to avoid being tracked online

In our modern era of personalized ads and online user tracking, I don't blame you if you're concerned about the digital tracks you are leaving behind whenever you are online.

Big data is big business nowadays, and your browsing and search habits get collected, cataloged, analyzed and fed through algorithms that are designed to monetize your every move.



But sometimes, all this stalking and creeping and tracking and snooping can feel a little bit too much. It certainly feels like a blatant invasion of privacy.

And here's the kicker. Although online tracking is mostly used for targeted advertising, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica fiasco reminded us that our personal data can be used for more than simply influencing our buying decisions. Our online profiles can also be used for manipulating group behavior, too.

Thankfully, there are a number of tools out there that can help you boost your online privacy. From tweaking your browser settings to opting out of ad tracking altogether, here are various ways you can fight back.

Change your browser cookie settings


Advertisers record and store your online habits on your computer as a small file called a cookie. You can remove these yourself, but they'll just keep coming back.

In the advertising world, cookies are used in many different ways. Online advertising companies use cookies to help deliver ads and track their performance. Cookies provide information about how many times an advertisement has been seen, which browsers have received it, and what sites were being visited when it appeared.

For a clean slate, you can clear all your browsing data, history, cache and cookies from your web browsers. With this method, you can disable or limit tracking on your gadget or even services like Facebook. Click here for detailed instructions on how to do this.

Next, make sure you delete all third-party advertising cookies too. Click here for more tips on how to clear out these types of cookies.

Next, test your browser with an online security and privacy checker like Panopticlick. Developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this site collects information about the browser you're using and will tell you your risk level.

Incognito or private mode

Private browsing

Every major web browser - Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera - has private, or incognito, browsing.

Turning this feature on means your browser will ignore cookies - including ad-tracking cookies - and it won't record your browsing history. As far as cookies are concerned, it's a clean slate and it's almost like you weren't even online during the session.

When your browser is in private browsing mode, it will show a special icon. If you don't see the mask in Firefox, the spy in Chrome or the "InPrivate" in IE and Edge, then you aren't in incognito or private mode.

Tip in a tip: Instead of using a browser's private mode, you can try an alternative browser like the Tor Browser. This easy-to-use web browser will automatically encrypt and hide your traffic from prying eyes.

Private browsing will keep your browsing safe from local snoopers and hide your browsing history. Someone who jumps on your computer won't see where you've been. This is great when you want to hide your tracks when shopping for a gift for a family member, for example.

However, incognito modes still won't hide your activity from your ISP, from a firewall (like the one in your office) or from routers with monitoring tools enabled. It also won't stop advanced tracking techniques like canvas fingerprinting and supercookies.

Click here to read more about this one simple way to keep your browsing history secret.

Opt out of ads


With all the behind-the-scenes tracking going around, the number of companies that use algorithms to track your behavior and send you targeted ads is disturbing when you think about it.

Thankfully, there's a way for you to opt-out of interest based, or "behavioral," ads. Or, at least most of them.

The Digital Advertising Alliance has a consumer choice page that lets you see which of its participating partners is currently using customized ads on your computer.

When you first visit the website, a scan will begin. When the scan is complete, you'll be shown a list of these partners.

From there, you can learn more about the practices these companies use for interest-based ads, and opt-out using "opt-out cookies" that are stored in your browser with your preferences.

It's important to note that doing this won't remove all of the ads that you see online. Advertisers just won't be able to serve you targeted ads.

Click here to check out more anti-tracking tools you can try.

Use third-party anti-tracking browser extensions


Another convenient option to stop and monitor tracking is installing browser extensions. There's a variety of them you can try.

Privacy Badger is a browser add-on or extension for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that will monitor webpages for spying ads and trackers that can be recording your every move. It claims to detect 184 tracking domains with tracking activity adjustable with filter sliders within its settings.

Another option is Ghostery, an ad tracking blocker that supports all major browsers - Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. It's a pretty straightforward blocker that can stop all sorts of categorized trackers such as advertising, analytics and social media tracking.

Disconnect will likewise identify advertising, analytics, social media and content tracking requests. According to the company, they try and take the middle ground between privacy protection and respect for analytics tracking that is necessary for websites to survive. If done tastefully, this is certainly a good approach.

Do you want more? Click here to check out more anti-tracking browser extensions you can try.

Check your online account settings


Sometimes it feels like the tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook know you personally. It's not surprising, because they do!

Each time you use their products and services, they have algorithms that track what you like, watch and click on. Data is the name of the game, and they use this information to target ads or relevant posts to users on behalf of advertisers.

Thankfully, these companies and most advertising firms give you tools to opt out of personalized ad tracking.

Google and Microsoft, for example, have account dashboards for privacy controls and for checking what it knows about you. Note: Google actually revamped their ad settings to make it easier for you to understand and limit ad tracking.

Facebook likewise has options for turning off behavioral tracking to keep it from following you around the web. The company is also currently auditing its third-party apps and they're now easier to view and control.

Use a private browser on your phone too


For those times when web anonymity is your primary priority, it doesn't stop even when you're on the go. You can get comparable anti-web tracking tools on your smartphone, too.

One such app is Mozilla's free Firefox Focus app. This anonymous mobile web browser blocks all advertising, analytics and social trackers by default. It also erases all passwords and browsing history after each session.

The mobile versions of Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Edge also have incognito and InPrivate modes you can use.

If you don't want a mobile browser that's associated with the big data brokers, you can try the third-party app Dolphin browser. Aside from a Private Mode, this browser has great features that specifically enhances the mobile browsing experience.

If you're on a Samsung smartphone, you can also use the company's very own Samsung Internet app. This browser has a built-in ad tracking blocker that will keep other sites from tracking your online activity.

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Browse privately using VPNs


If you truly want to keep your personal information private, your best option is to encrypt your connection with a virtual private network (VPN).

A VPN service lets you create an encrypted connection with one of its servers and you use that server to browse the internet. The connection is encrypted through the server, so the VPN can't see your traffic either. OK, it's a bit more complicated than that behind the scenes, but that's the result. Click here to learn more about using a VPN.

There you have it, if you're creeped out by all the background tracking that's going on whenever you go online, these are the ways you can minimize it.

When choosing a VPN, you need to trust the provider to respect your privacy. This one thing helps set our sponsor FREEDOME VPN apart from all the rest. F-Secure is a publicly listed computer security company with a 30-year spotless track record of protecting its customers and respecting their privacy.


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yes i will forget information you had filled on on that website..  also cookies of what you visited on that site, preferences, etc..


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41 minutes ago, Ha91 said:

Will deleting cookies have an impact on my browser, in case I want to restore a session?

Nope, I'm using the session manager from Tab Mix Plus (TMP) — it restores the sessions without being impacted by the state of the cookies (have not had the opportunity to test the native Firefox session manager.) ;)

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Cookies may contain session management, personalization, and tracking. What you want to get rid of is the last part.

However, you may also want to get rid of the first and second if you are using a public computer.

A simple Ctrl + Shift + Del key can be used on computer browsers to clear not only cookies, but also other information.

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I personally always use incognito mode in Chrome with Privacy Badger, HTTPS everywhere, CC Cleaner to clean data, NordVPN for VPN purposes and Duck Duck Go for searching.

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