We spent most of November looking at social influencers and the concept of targeted advertising. Those posts covered how advertisers use your browsing data to send specific, targeted ads your way. There are some tools available that can help with blocking information that you share with websites.
Ghostery – Ghostery is the premier free tool for controlling trackers that are embedded into your favorite sites. The application comes in two flavors. You can choose to load a browser extension into your favorite web browser such as Chrome or Firefox. For your mobile device or tablet, you can use the Ghostery web browser. Once installed, Ghostery walks you through the process of limiting what various snippets of code can track as it relates to your browsing habits, social media, and more. They have a fantastic tour that explains this much more eloquently than I can. If you are concerned about blocking information you may be sharing with web sites, this is a great place to start.
Privacy Badger – This Chrome extension is similar to Ghostery. Privacy Badger automatically blocks sites from tracking your actions. The lack of setup or customization makes this an ideal application for those people who just want their sharing limited as much as possible.
Disconnect – The third option on the list is much more mainstream than the first two. It has been reviewed and rated by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and the Today show to name a few. Disconnect is a browser extension that has a free version, a pro version, and subscription option. All three versions provide the user varying degrees of protection based on their input. The free version that blocks thousands of sites from tracking your data in one browser. The upgrade to the pro version adds protection across your entire device, not just one web browser. It includes protection from harmful software such a malware, viruses, and spyware. The subscription model include a VPN which masks your location and hides your browsing history from trackers. While I have never used this application personally, the reviews online are highly favorable.
The apps above make it easier to understand exactly what data sites are attempting to collect and they do make blocking information easier online. While these tools are great, they are not perfect. Portions of your browsing history may slip through even with one of these extensions protecting you.
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