Here's how to avoid being tracked online

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If you were concerned about Facebook tracking your every move, do I have news for you that will just make your day – or not.

Surprise! You’re constantly being tracked by almost every platform online. But we’re here to help you, for just five easy monthly payments of $49.95 – nah just kidding here’s some free advice, my friends. Run, be free.

Quick recap in case you haven’t been playing along at home: during Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook allowed third parties to scrape as much personal data as they wanted, even when its own privacy rules were abused.

Multiple apps have been gathering vast amounts of personal information simply by inviting users to sign up for different quiz apps or online games. The “Login with Facebook” button almost surely meant that a user was willingly giving away their personal information.

Currently, thousands of app owners and developers still have personal data of millions of users, and it is not clear how and when they will use it.

However, while all of the hype focuses on Facebook, many privacy abusers are even worse or at least as bad as Facebook, and many people are not aware of them. Fun times, huh?

You, yes you, precious internet user – you’re are tracked in multiple ways all day long. By search engines, advertisers, various apps and platforms, and ISPs.

Marty P Kamden, the CMO of NordVPN says any online platform that we use collects information about our behavior, location and so on. Not only that, but apps and platforms use cross-device tracking, where they build a consumer’s profile based on their activity.

“Browsing history may be combined with physical location, retail purchases with watched TV programs, commute to work and so on, “Kamden explains. “Basically, most Internet users are tracked from the moment they wake up till they go to sleep.”

“This information can then be used to build users’ psychological profiles and target them with ads and information that can impact elections – as we have seen with the Cambridge Analytica case. Or, if it falls into the hands of cybercriminals, this data can be used to steal identities, access bank accounts or medical records.”

Okay – but there’s the real reason you’re here – how to avoid being tracked.

Here’s some top tips courtesy of NordVPN.

It is important to realise that it will be hard to completely avoid being tracked. The data that is already shared cannot be taken back. However, there are a few proven privacy protection methods that can be easily implemented by anyone who is using the Internet.

Download all your Facebook data if you are deleting your account

If you have decided to delete your Facebook account, first download all your data that is kept by Facebook – just to see the extent of what they have been collecting. Go to Settings, General Account Settings, and click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”

Delete all suspicious apps

It’s important to revoke access to Facebook applications that are no longer in use, as well as suspicious apps that offer users to get “likes,” followers or view private accounts on Instagram and other types of social media.

Delete cookies

Internet users may be monitored by many different entities: ISPs, ad networks, publishers and other third parties. One of the most common ways to track online behavior is through cookies – small pieces of code that are downloaded into a user’s browser when they visit a website.

When the user visits that website again, this will be recorded through the cookie, and targeted ads can be directed towards that person. Users need to regularly clear their browsing data in order to get rid of all the cookies.

VPNs

A VPN encrypts the data between a user’s device and the VPN server and is the safest security mechanism to ensure the Internet browsing history remains confidential. It reroutes and encrypts all Internet traffic by hiding a user’s IP address.

Once Internet traffic is encrypted, and the real IP address is hidden, it becomes difficult to track this person. As an added benefit, VPN users can also access geo-blocked content online.

Browser add-ons

Anti-tracking and anti-cookie extensions are among the best ways to stay private. For example, Disconnect Private Browsing protects from tracking and malware. It blocks third-party cookies and protects from tracking by social networks like Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

Another advisable option is Privacy Badger by the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation. Facebook Container Extension helps Firefox users control their web activity from Facebook by isolating their identity into a separate container, which makes it harder for Facebook to track user’s activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

This first appeared at Gizmodo Australia. See the original here.

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