Digital Housekeeping

So when I changed my name on here to lmalianobles.wordpress.com, I decided I wanted to also write about tech. Have I done nearly as much of that as I have creative writing? Nope. But I did just find the draft document of ideas I had for tech articles. I was going to call my blog “Digital Housekeeping,” hence this title, but I decided to keep going the creative writing route.

This is an old one, 2017-ish, but edited in 2021.

There’s a saying that goes “If the service is free, you’re the product.” Sites like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat profit by serving its ad partners’ ads to you as often as possible. Your profile is a member of an audience that Google & co. are selling to advertisers.

While harmless ads are indeed harmless, personally, I don’t like to work for free.

Becoming entirely ad-free is something of a process when you consider cookies. Websites give you cookies to store where you’re going to go next (and next and next) so that they can sell your profile to advertisers.

There are a number of options today’s Internet users have to prevent this kind of tracking. The question then becomes, how free are you? And I don’t mean that in a liberation sense, not literally, (not slavery).

The following is a list of apps and some advice for those moments where you’d like to be ad-free.

  • Adblocker Plus has been my go-to on Chrome, as well as HTTPS everywhere and Disconnect
  • Like in the body, computer viruses are MUCH harder to recognize than the computer equivalent of a bacterial infection. Right now, 2021, I’m going to be using a free app by Avast
  • Consider paying for your e-mail service. I do, but it gets mail forwarded from a Gmail account
  • Consider getting a VPN to mask your IP address
  • Clear your web browser history and cookies
  • Review the data collected by your search engine
  • DuckDuckGo and Startpage are two Google alternatives I enjoy
  • Google’s Account Settings
    • You can turn off location tracking, search queue, YouTube history, etc.
    • At the time of my writing this originally, I claim that Gmail stores your emails to serve you better ads. “This seems to be an unnegotiable aspect to the account,” says 2017 me.
    • Empty the trash in your Gmail

Disappearing From The Internet

Many people have tried to “disappear from the Internet,” and many can attest that it can be a damn near impossible undertaking. People finding sites have addresses, phone numbers, names of family members, you name it.

Many people, understandably, don’t care what corporations do with their data. Those cringey messages you sent your ex that one time you blacked out in 2013? Why would anyone important – the CEOS, etc., and the governments they often work closely with – care about your data? Why not sacrifice “privacy for convenience”?

However, maybe you aren’t comfortable with everything you’ve posted online being publicly available forever. Do what you can to secure your information, and that comfort will come.

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