Stop websites from tracking what you see by adjusting privacy settings, using new extensions or browsers
Advertising is a crime that needs to be from the internet. For most sites, the way they can offer free content is thanks to the revenue generated from displaying ads to hopefully relevant products that you might want to buy. It gets creepy though when you search for something on one site, only to have an ad later appear wherever you are online. This depends on the tracking technology used by the site and the advertising company that hopes you will buy the product. But there are several ways to stop this invasive technique, and we will show you the settings and applications to use if you want to maintain the privacy of your search.
Opt out of personalized ads on Google applications
With Google being the main source of search results on this planet, it’s no surprise that advertisements follow. Luckily, Google provides a way to turn off tracking elements at the very least. On a PC, open your Google account by opening Chrome and clicking on your account icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.
On smartphones and tablets open the Google application (or install it from the App store first) then tap the profile icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.
On any platform you need to select the Data & Personalization tab, then ensure that Ad personalization is turned off.
After this is done, all of your devices that are signed in to your Google account must now stop using Google ad tracking features. Of course, this is not the only tracker that watches your online activities, as we will see.
How to block third party cookies
One way internet advertising companies track you on the web is by placing a cookie on your device. It’s not edible, unfortunately, but it allows the site to remember things about your visit such as your chosen currency, and while they are an integral part of how the modern internet functions, you can stop it if you want.
In Chrome, open the menu by clicking or tapping on the three dots in the upper right corner, then select Settings> Privacy and security> Site settings> Cookies and site data. Here Allll found an option to Block third-party cookies. Activate this and you must take another pillar from the tracking Pantheon.
The same settings must be available in other browsers, so find your way to the Privacy settings and you will see an equivalent option.
Just remember that the web will become a less comfortable place after you do this, but the exchange might be worth it.
How to activate Do Not Track in your browser
Most browsers provide the ability to send Do Not Track requests to websites when you visit them. Although this is a useful feature to be turned on, it is not a feature that must be respected by the site in question. However, we recommend that you use it as additional protection.
Open your browser and open the Settings menu. In Chrome this is found by tapping three dots in the upper right corner and selecting Settings. Most of the others follow the same method. Look for the privacy section then the option to Send Don’t Track and activate.
How to use Incognito mode in your browser
Another tool in your anti-tracking weaponry is to use Incognito or Private browsing mode in the browser of your choice. To open a private window, tap the three dots in the upper right corner of your browser, then select New Private Tab or a similar option. Using this should prevent tracking, but if you log in to social media or your Google account it can avoid your anonymity.
How to use an anti-tracking browser extension
Adding a privacy extension or plug-in to your browser is another way to keep track. There is plenty available, with Ghostery and Privacy Badger being the two most popular. We have a collection of the best Chrome extensions for further ideas on how to use this practical mini application.
Many of these also block ads that you don’t really want to see, but remember to support your favorite sites by whitelisting them in any ad blocker – blocking ads really costs the website.
How to use a secure browser
Some browsers give more privacy and anti-tracking. One of the most popular is Firefox, which by default uses Enhanced Tracking Protection which stops websites that monitor your behavior. If you want to explore calmly, then Firefox can go a long way to make it happen.
There are also browsers dedicated to privacy, such as Brave (which is based on Chrome) and the famous Tor browser. Some of the desktop extensions that we mentioned are also available as mobile web browsers, including Ghostery. There is also DuckDuckGo, which you may only know as a privacy search engine, but the web browser is available for iOS and Android. Likewise, Firefox Focus is a mobile browser that focuses on privacy.