Ever noticed how you start seeing ads for furniture after you searched for a couch online? Or adverts of clothes after you Google for some dress designs? The sites you visit know a lot about you. And it’s not just Google that’s keeping track of your online activity. There are many sites that store cookies on your machine to see when you have visited them. They follow you around to know who you are. This data is then shared with marketers who can show you ads that will interest you. Is it actually possible to avoid being tracked by advertisers online? Let’s find out.
What are Cookies?
Cookies are lightweight files that websites store on your computer. They store some data related to your visit. If you visit the site multiple times, all your visit details are recorded in cookies. These files are stored in the browser’s cache and have a unique ID. Since they track all the sites visited by you and the time you spent there, it creates a profile of your online activities. This is what most small companies do.
Let’s talk about big tech giants such as Google and Facebook. These websites don’t just create your tracking profile but also map your online activities. So if you think you’re using another email address to send a mail and nobody will get to know, you’re wrong. All your activities are being monitored and can be traced back to you.
Why You Should Hide
You might not value them but your personal details are worth a lot. Your details can be used to create a complete profile that defines your behavior and the kind of products you’d be interested in. There are people who think they have nothing to hide. But that’s just naïve thinking. Your profile can also be used against you by hackers. It’s always a good idea to stay safe by hiding your tracks.
You can defend yourself against cookies by logging out of all your social media accounts and then deleting the cookies. You can also install some cookie blockers such as Adblock Plus and Privacy Badger to block all trackers and cookies from websites you visit.
The Next Step
While these extensions can block cookies being stored on your computer, you might want to go a step ahead and make sure your personal data is completely protected. One way to do that is to use a separate browser for all your social networks and a different one for sensitive online surfing. For example, you can use Chrome for Facebook and Twitter and Firefox for banking and shopping. Since each browser has a different cookie set, changing browsers can help you stay hidden from activity tracking.
And if you are required to enter your information on a website to access its contents, you can provide wrong information. For example, if there is a popup that just wouldn’t go unless you enter your email address, you can give a fake address. If it wants your phone number, you can change one digit or leave the apartment number when asked for the physical address.
They might lure you with a coupon or a discount in exchange for your details. If you really want to use the coupon, share fake details.
Hide your IP Address
While these tricks will not let websites store cookies on your computer or save your personal details, they can still see your IP. Your IP reflects a lot about you, such as your geographical location and your internet service provider. You can change your IP by using a VPN. A VPN will provide you another IP and you can hide behind it while browsing the web.
How to Avoid Being Tracked by Advertisers – Wrap Up
These are just some of the things that can be easily implemented without changing your online experience. It’s always better to stay safe from prying eyes. While most trackers are used to send adverts your way, some of them might use them for malicious purposes.