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The sites you visit, the services you use, the updates you like — all of these come together to paint an incredibly accurate (maybe too accurate…) picture of who you are.
While it’s become easier for marketers to target you with specific ads, it’s become harder for you to keep any sense of anonymity. That said, here are 5 steps you can take to decrease your digital footprint.
1. Use Anti-Tracking Tools
By using your browser’s cookies, people can see which sites you visited, how long you were there and in some case, what links you were clicking on. Chrome extensions like Privacy Badger and Ghostery are free and effective tools to help keep trackers and hackers out of your browser. These add-ons show you which trackers are following you and give you the opportunity to choose which ones to block and which to allow.
2. Start Using Private Browsers
Google’s still the undisputed king when it comes to search engines, but their privacy settings are far from regal. Alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo offer similar results while promising complete and total anonymity. Plus, you won’t have to see ads at the top of each search page.
3. Set Your Social Media Settings to Private
In some cases it may in your best interest to grow your social profiles, but in other cases it’s not. When in doubt, look into increasing your social media settings by minimizing your online visibility. With Instagram, turn your location settings off; with Facebook, set your settings to private. When it comes to your privacy, the fewer information people can access, the greater your security.
4. Delete Your Old Accounts And Emails
Make a habit to Google yourself every few months (this includes doing an image search). Also, go through your old email accounts and cancel those newsletter subscriptions for sites you no longer use. Reducing the number of services that have your information in their system will help cut back on your digital presence. And while you’re at it, go ahead and deactivate those old Myspace pages too.
5. Limit What Data Your Apps Can Access
When your photo sharing app asks for permission to access your contacts, you know you have a problem. With more and more apps on the market, it’s important to educate yourself as to what these apps do and what they need access to. Health fitness apps are notorious for having terrible privacy settings (with cases of some apps selling your health data to marketers). Max out the privacy settings of your apps and make sure they’re only allowed to access data they absolutely need.