Tips For Better Controlling Your Privacy Online

Photo: Babak Tafreshi / Getty

Online Privacy. Is there such a thing anymore? Most of us are in one of two camps. We either have accepted the probability that our personal information is likely being bought and sold and viewed by everyone and anyone, or we think that we have the right and the duty to control how our information is used and who can access it.

If you’re in the second camp, you're probably reading this article because you want to learn how to better control your privacy online.

Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Better Control Your Privacy Online:

1. Anonymize With A Personal VPN

One of the biggest steps you can take towards your online privacy is to obtain a personal VPN service from a VPN provider. A VPN is an encrypted connection that encrypts all of your network traffic and provides other capabilities such as the ability to browse the Internet from a proxied IP address.

For other reasons you might want to consider using a personal VPN, check out our article: ​Why You Need a Personal VPN.

2. Perform a Facebook Privacy Overhaul

Depending on how much you use it, Facebook is like a live streamed diary of your life. From what you're thinking right this very minute, to your current location, Facebook can be a nearly omniscient source of personal information.

If, like many people out there, you set up your privacy settings when you first joined Facebook and never looked back, you should consider a privacy overhaul.

Facebook’s privacy settings and their terms and conditions have likely changed a lot since you first joined and you may be missing out on some of the opt-out options available to you if you haven’t revisited your Facebook privacy settings in some time.

Check out our articles on How to Give Your Facebook Account a Privacy Makeover and also How to Secure Your Facebook Timeline for some great tips.

3. Opt Out Of Everything Possible

Do you want more SPAM in your email account? Chances are, the answer is no, and this is why you might want to consider opting out of all those “do you wish for us to send you offers?” check boxes you see when you register on a website.

If it creeps you out that you see advertisements for things you’ve searched for on another website on the site you are currently viewing, you might want to opt-out of cross-site ad tracking. This can be done via preferences in your web browser. We’ll show you how to set this up in pretty much every major browser in our article How to Setup Do Not Track In Your Web Browser.  

Note: changing this setting doesn’t force any website to obey your wishes but it does at least let them know your preference.  

4. Dodge Junk Email

Whenever you register on a website, it’s become a given that you have to provide them with an email address in order to register.

If you’re trying to keep your level of SPAM under control and maintain a little email privacy, consider using a disposable email address for those websites that you register on that you don’t plan on coming back to regularly. Disposable email addresses are available from providers such as Mailinator and others.

5. Un-geotag Your Pictures

We often don’t think about our location as something that we need to keep private, but your current location can be sensitive information, especially if you’re on vacation or home alone. This information could be very valuable to anyone wanting to harm you or steal from you.

Your location may be provided unbeknownst to you via the metadata of pictures you take on your smartphone. This information, also known as a geotag, might be found in every photo you’ve taken with your smartphone. Read our article on Why Stalkers Love Your Geotags for much more information on the risks associated with Geotags.