Tuesday, April 03, 2018 by David Williams
It’s not safe to use the internet anymore. While there have always been issues with unscrupulous individuals on the Web and how they could go after you or your private data online, the risks to the average internet user are far bigger now than they have ever been before. If in the past, the internet was more like a toy that you could play with and not have to think about once you go offline, nowadays, that’s just no longer the case.
If you use sites like Facebook and Google, chances are, plenty of your personal information has been made available to third-party outfits, particularly advertisers. This has made things somewhat easier for these sites, at least as far as the content side of things are concerned, since your personal data enables advertisers as well as the sites themselves to customize what content you see on your screen, but overall it has been a major blow to online privacy.
At the same time, the algorithms used to customize your online experience can act against you in ways that you least expected. For instance, if you hold certain views, your social media experience may end up trapping you inside an echo chamber of similar thoughts, sentiments, and philosophies, thereby shielding you from contradicting yet potentially insightful information. In short, even simply reading online can be harmful to you. As such, it’s important to know how to fight back.
Indeed, it’s possible to fight back against the onslaught of online brainwashing, misinformation, and clickbaiting that regularly happens on the world’s biggest websites. All it takes is performing a few key steps that can help free your mind from the systematic attack that you have been subjected to ever since you started using the likes of Facebook, Google, and YouTube.
First, it’s important to realize the extent to which your privacy has been violated, or could be violated, and basically know exactly what’s at stake here. You may think you’re just reading a simple online article on one of your favorite websites – one which a dear friend of yours might have even shared at that – but there’s a good chance that sinister computer algorithms may be working in the background. Before you know it, you could end up being indoctrinated into accepting false beliefs. It might be a good idea to read up on the recent happenings concerning online privacy to find out what this is all about. Once you have caught up and figured out what you need to know, only then will you be able to act.
And acting is where the fun begins. When you know that there’s an algorithm that could possibly be working against you, you can work against it too. More often than not, the algorithm is just programming code that a human wrote. Someone just like you created the algorithm. You can game it by not always following, liking, or subscribing to the exact same things. In fact, make it a point to expose yourself to contracting view points in order to keep your online experience “balanced” in that regard. Basically, use the algorithm to your own advantage by letting it serve you a wide variety of content.
It can also be helpful to try and minimize the tracking that you are subjected to. Use your browser’s built-in Private Browsing feature in order to turn off browsing history and disable cookies from recording any information about your website visits. If you are comfortable with getting a bit technical, you can even use a VPN to try to “fool” the network into thinking you are located somewhere else, preventing it from showing you location-specific content – because that’s a thing, and it’s a common occurrence.
And if running content blockers and minimizing trackers still doesn’t work, just go offline. Even if it’s only for a little while, you’ll be able to feel its effects quite immediately. The real world is still the rich palette that it has always been outside of the internet, and you’ll find plenty of information to take in even when you’re offline. You should appreciate it for what it is and rely on it for your much-needed internet breaks to keep yourself sane. The internet is a dangerous place to be in, and keeping yourself safe should be your number one priority.
Read more about today’s ongoing online privacy scandals in PrivacyWatch.news.