If you want to know who can access your information while you surf the web, and how you can take back control, then read on.
What is surveillance capitalism?
Most websites you visit have ads or links with trackers that are designed to associate or identify you. These trackers then follow every move you make online, collecting more information as you browse. When you use Single-Sign-On (SSO) options like Google, Facebook, Apple, or Twitter, they even follow you across devices. That’s why ads for coats start appearing on your mobile after you’ve been shopping for one on your PC.
That information is then shared with marketers, publishers, and companies, so they can target you with ads tailored to catch your attention. You and your data become the product, leaving you vulnerable to malware and ad fraud.
How can you protect yourself?
Your data belongs to you, and you should control who can access it. Luckily, there are a few ways you can protect yourself.
Use an ad blocker extension. Ad blockers prevent advertisements from being displayed in your browser, which reduces the risk of tracking or clicking a malicious link.
Use a privacy-focused browser. Brave protects you by default, breaking almost all advertising, and blocking any tracking scripts.
Pay for premium service. Many websites or apps give you the option of paying for a premium, ad-free version of their software. As they’re funded by paying customers, they’re less dependent on ads to generate revenue, so have less need to track you.
What’s the impact?
Though only a small percentage of people use their browser to block ads and trackers, the numbers are growing. And it has an impact. We’re seeing that impact in new privacy regulations designed to protect consumers, which are being rolled out all over the world.
But protecting people from tracking and data collection has collateral damage for publishers. Publishers and marketers need something as simple for them to use as current ad tech is, but without the tracking.
The ideal is to strike a balance that works for all invested parties: to give marketers a way to share ads at the opportune time, while providing you with a way to turn off ads if you want. Blocking ads by default in a browser like Brave gives you options for giving back, but the ultimate goal is to keep users safe.