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How to Protect Your Privacy Online

Everyone on the internet wants to know what you are up to. The reasons for this range from security monitoring to plain old targeted marketing, but regardless of the reason — your privacy is compromised.

Every Move You Make on the Internet is Tracked and Recorded

Each video you watch, shopping cart you fill, every post you share, it is all stored for one reason or another. That said, there is no foolproof way to interact with the world wide web 100% anonymously — sorry to break it to you if that’s brand new information.

The reasons for this invasive tracking are various, ranging from security monitoring to improving your browsing experience to pure marketing purposes. Of those, some of these practices are to your benefit. Behavioral targeting, for instance, is one of the most comprehensive ways that companies on the internet use your web surfing information to communicate with you in a way that could be mutually beneficial to both parties.

For example, when you play that game on Facebook, watch that cat video, or read that article about how your sports team is doing, that data is compiled and sent to relevant companies. Those companies can – and do – use that information to advertise targeted products that someone like you would be likely to buy. This can benefit you because they’ve done their homework…they know what people like you enjoy! Conversely, they are more likely to make that sale.

If this for any reason bothers you, however, then there are some things you can go about it to decrease the amount of tracking is happening to you online.

Change Your Cookie Settings

Cookies are intended to save your recent activity online so you can get to where you want to go faster, such as passwords on sites you frequent. This can be unsafe, especially if more than one person uses your computer or if it’s in a public place like a library. Change your settings so that when you exit your browsing session those cookies expire. It is also a good idea to disallow third-party cookies from being set whenever you are browsing.

Private Browsing

As mentioned at the beginning, every move you make on the internet is tracked. This can be limited by surfing around privately. In Chrome they call this “incognito” or in Firefox it’s “private browsing.” They can still track what you’re doing so long as you are logged in, but once you close the window, your passwords and otherwise stored data will not be tracked.

HTTPS Encryption

Most websites use http:// at the beginning of the URL. These are not considered “secure” sites because they are unencrypted, and your data is available for 3rd-party sites to use. This is also the reason http sites are so widely used — everyone wants your information! When you can, make it difficult for your activity to be snooped by installing software or a browser add-on that can encrypt your information in https for sites that offer this option.

Although it is not possible to go completely anonymous on the internet, there are indeed ways to boost your security and privacy. You may lose some of the tailor-made advertising and miss out on deals that you may actually be interested in — but this may be a risk worth taking in exchange for increased privacy.



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