Everywhere you look online, you see how little privacy you have left. Facebook Ads showing the same product you Googled ten minutes ago. Your data among the millions stolen in the last big cyberattack.
How can we avoid this happening? There must be a way!
Online privacy has eroded because big tech companies track all (and we mean ALL) of our online activity. Facebook monitors everything you do on its platform. Google siphons off all your searches and scans your Gmail.
In March 2018, a privacy advocate investigated how much data Google collects. The resulting deluge of private data is shocking, to say the least!
Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you - The Guardian
This WOOF will lay out where those companies deploy their 2 biggest trackers, and a simple way to stop them.
How Big Tech Tracks Your Online Activity
TRACKER #1 – YOUR WEB BROWSER.
Do you use the Chrome browser? Chrome sends data to Google. You have to give them permission to do this…but they wrap said permission into the Chrome User Agreement. In other words, no data, no Chrome.
The data includes:
- Sites visited
- For how long
- The details you enter into some contact forms
And so on. In truth, we don't actually know all of the tracking methods Google uses!
Every major browser contains a 'Privacy Mode' that supposedly turns off tracking like this. But you have to enable it; Privacy Mode's not active by default.
TRACKER #2 – THE SEARCH ENGINE.
Almost every search engine tracks what people type into it. It's how they know what to suggest. What's nearby to you right that second. Which ads to show you.
They sell the same data to other companies so they can create ads, make new products, and conduct research.
To an extent, this helps fuel Web growth. But frankly, it's gotten excessive. These two everyday practices – using a Web browser and searching – make up the majority of data collection.
Which means you can stop most of it, preserving your privacy, with just two changes. A new Web browser, and a new search engine.
Change 1: Use the Brave Web Browser
Brave is a newer Web browser, introduced in 2016. It's very similar to Chrome in layout…with one major difference. Brave doesn't track your online activity. By default.
It also blocks ads automatically. Not only does this help your privacy, but it also stops ad-based malware from sneaking onto your computer.
"But it's a pain to switch browsers." Not this time! Brave makes it easy to switch from Chrome, or Firefox, or Safari, or even Edge. You can import all of your bookmarks, logins, and history through Brave's settings. It even walks you through the process.
Brave saves you all the time & hassle of re-logging into a dozen websites, and hunting down the sites you already saved.
Finally, Brave is free to download at Brave.com.
**Special note for PlanetMagpie’s Managed Services customers: Brave works seamlessly with our network management platform. Which means we can deploy it for you, if you like!
Change 2: Use the DuckDuckGo Search Engine
There are more search engines than Google and Bing! One is a privacy-focused search engine called DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo acts like Google or Bing; you search the same way you always have. With one big difference: DuckDuckGo doesn't track those searches. At all.
DuckDuckGo has quietly built up its engine over the past few years. We tried it out for a while, running the same searches in DuckDuckGo as in Google. Results came out almost exactly alike each time. DuckDuckGo definitely has a deep, thorough search database. It can "stand in" for Google anytime...with better privacy to boot.
Try it out yourself: Duckduckgo.com
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of early 2022, DuckDuckGo announced it would manipulate its search results, beginning with information about the war in Ukraine. This does not constitute tracking of your online activity, but it does call all of DuckDuckGo's search accuracy into question.
If you're serious about privacy in search, try Brave Search instead.
Wipe Your Data When Switching Browsers
One more privacy tip to share. If you switch to Brave from an activity-tracking browser like Google Chrome, Chrome still holds all the data it collected about you up to that point.
Unless you wipe it out.
All browsers contain the option to delete your user account & browsing data. Unfortunately, they don't always make it an obvious process.
That's okay though! We already have step-by-step guides available. Here are the steps you'll need to follow:
- Wipe your browsing data from Google Chrome
- Wipe your browsing data from Firefox
- Wipe your browsing data from Microsoft Edge
Only do this AFTER you've imported all the data to Brave...otherwise, it's gone!
Both Brave and DuckDuckGo are free. You can switch over in about one hour. By the end of the week, you won't see any difference. Except the benefits of better privacy: fewer ads, lower risk of data theft, and even fewer phishing attempts.
Most importantly, better peace of mind.
How do you protect your privacy online? Send us your approach at firstname.lastname@example.org!