Published on March 29th, 2018 | by admin
Facebook Tracking Is Just a Tip of the Iceberg: How Internet Users Are Constantly Tracked by All Platforms and How to Regain Privacy
March 28, 2018. The #deletefacebook hashtag has been trending, as well as Google searches for “delete Facebook.”
As it turned out 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. “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.
Internet users are tracked in multiple ways all day long: by search engines, advertisers, various apps and platforms, and ISPs (Internet Service Providers).
“Any online platform that we use collects information about our behavior, location and so on. Apps and platforms use cross-device tracking, where they build a consumer’s profile based on their activity throughout devices,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Browsing history may be combined with physical location, retail purchases with watched TV programs, commute to work and so on. 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.”
Can Internet users avoid being tracked?
It will be hard to completely avoid being tracked – and 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.
- Use ad-blockers. Ad blocking software provides Internet users with a list of third-party trackers, and users can choose to allow some sites to track them or they can choose to block them. For example, AdBlock Pluseffectively blocks banner ads, pop-up ads, and other types of ads. It also disables third-party tracking cookies and scripts.
- Delete cookies.Internet users may be monitored by many different entities: ISPs (Internet Service Providers), 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. NordVPN has a reputation of focusing on privacy, security and having a zero logs policy, and is fast and easy to use. 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 Browsingprotects from tracking and malware. It blocks third-party cookiesand 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.
Users need to take their privacy into their own hands and to become more cautious and educated about what they share on the Internet. Everyone should keep in mind that whatever they post or enter online, will most likely stay online.