Do you ever get the feeling that someone is tracking your every move on the internet? If you have, you are right. Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are the top 4 companies that probably know a lot more about you than you realize, and definitely a lot more than you want them to know.
Let’s say you are shopping for a certain book or DVD (if you still use these things in a physical form) and you happen to google the title you are interested in. All of a sudden you see advertisements for that same book on your other computers, tablets, and even your smartphone. This happens all the time; you are browsing for something to buy on the internet and then on many other wesites you visit, you get bombarded by advertisements for that item or similar items. Have you wondered why this happens?
It’s because when you use these free services such as Google, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Facebook and Apple products, all these companies are tracking what you are shopping for, what you are searching and browsing for, and in some cases your location, your name, address, & phone numbers. These companies know a lot more than you think. You know the saying nothing is free? Well because you use some of these free services offered by these companies, in return, you are giving up a lot of information and data about yourself. Data about you like what you shop for, what your interests are, what you could potentially spend money on, is worth big money for these companies. They can sell this information or exchange this information about you with other companies, who are willing to pay to find out more about you. The ultimate goal is to come up with a complete profile about you to sell you merchandise you are looking for, and maybe even predict what you may be interested in, advertise it to you, and sell you the goods.
So what can you do to reduce the amount of information that is being tracked about you when you are using your computer? There are a few simple things you can do.
- Log out of any accounts that keep you signed in, like Google, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Facebook, and any other service that keeps you logged in when you are browsing.
- Go into your account settings and look for any Ad Settings and turn off anything you do not want being tracked. Each service has it’s own steps to opt out of ad tracking, therefore you may have to Google how to do this depending on which services you use.
- When browsing the internet, most internet browsers such as Internet Explorer and Google Chrome have an option where you can browse in private mode, which prevents tracking your internet usage. This is available on your tablet and phone browsers as well. Browsing in private mode does not save information about you such as your browsing and search history, your passwords or your location.
- When you first install Windows 10, there are about 12 options that Microsoft has turned on by default; a lot of them dealing with collecting information about you. It is a good idea to disable all these options right from the start, or google how to disable these options if you already have Windows set up.
- Turn off location services on any device you use, and only turn it back on as needed. The advantage of this is, it will also extend your battery life.
- Delete your browsing history and cookies frequently.
Until next time, stay safe out there.