Whether you know it or not, a lot of your personal information is collected on the internet. Most websites and apps are tracking you to learn about your behavior and preferences for marketing purposes. If you value your privacy, this may not be a trade-off you’re willing to make. ?♀️
Opting out of tracking is often difficult because you have to jump through a lot of hoops and make sure to cover multiple platforms and devices. However, it is possible, and with a bit of a time investment, you can get a lot of your privacy back.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how and why websites and apps are tracking you. Then we’ll show you how to opt-out of tracking for several popular platforms and devices. Let’s dive in!
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How companies collect and use data, and why privacy matters
It’s fairly common knowledge these days that devices, websites, and apps are tracking your data. They use a variety of methods to collect information about you, including:
- Cookies. These are text-based files that websites use to store information (usually session IDs, login data, etc.) on your computer. Companies also use what are called ‘third-party persistent’ cookies to follow your activity around the web, including which sites you visit.
- Location tracking. Your phone – be it Android or iPhone – contains a GPS, which is useful when you need directions. However, your device may be monitoring your location even when you aren’t using your maps app.
Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook get users’ consent to track data in these and other ways by burying opt-in agreements in their terms and conditions. They claim to do so in order to serve you more accurate results.
While this is true, companies also sell your data to advertisers so they can show you targeted promotions. You’ve probably noticed that your Facebook ads often correspond with your recent internet activity.
However, targeted marketing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can sometimes be helpful in directing you to products you actually need. Likewise, session and personalization cookies save you from having to re-enter data every time you visit a website.
Problems arise when companies get ahold of personal information such as your medical history, bank records, or even private communications such as text messages. This type of data could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
This article was written by John Hughes and originally published on CodeinWP.