Get The Feeling the Internet is Watching You?

It’s Tech Tuesday Time.

So has this happened to you? You are searching the Internet for a present for that hard to buy for person on your list. You know, something you might never buy for yourself. After a bit of searching, you give up and check into Facebook only to find that your news feed has a weird sense of deja vu. Your search seems to have followed you to Facebook, your email interface and even future searches.

Well the simple explanation for this is when you use free sites like Facebook, Google, Bing, Amazon,  ect…they make a great deal of their operating revenue from selling advertising, and more specifically Targeted Advertising. While not a new concept, it is being noticed by more and more users, and is often unwelcome.

So what can you do?

Browser History and Cookies
First your can erase your browser history and cookies from time to time.  This will help to wipe the virtual memory clean somewhat.

Go Incognito
If you use Gmail you can use an “incognito” window, that won’t keep a browser history. This is also handy for those who have tech savvy kids who might search your history to see what they might be getting from Santa. Also great for signing into two Gmail or drive accounts at the same time.  (I can’t be the only person who manages 3 or 4 Google accounts, can I?) and finally…

Opt Out of Advertising
There is a way to opt out of some of that annoying targeted advertising through the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising.  There is a lot of really interesting info on this site if you have the time and inclination to sift through it. Before you click the next link, know that it will start a search of your browser history right away. If you want to know more before you so that, go back to the link in this paragraph to read about the program.  

To opt out,  go to the “Opt Out” page. It  will automatically search your history for participating companies. From the populated listing, you can chose all or some of the advertisers to block.  It will even tell you who can’t be.  While this won’t stop the ads completely it will help.

I guess reading those privacy notice updates from Facebook can yield something useful every now and again.  They are once again updating policies January 1, 2015 and reading through this led me to the above info.  Be sure to bookmark the site for future use. You might have to redo this as you may pick up targeted advertising from new companies.

It’s hard not to use social media and the Internet, but there are ways to help control the experience. Happy surfing!  We hope this was helpful to you.   What other kinds of tech tips would you like to see CARES research?