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Stop Facebook From Going Through Your Browsing History in 3 Easy Steps

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Stop Facebook From Going Through Your Browsing History in 3 Easy Steps

We all know that Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook buddies are prying into our personal data a bit more than they should. Even when there was no concrete proof, most were aware that there was something funky going on with the biggest social media website in history.

It would seem, however, that those in control of Facebook finally decided to come out and say, point blank, that they will use your browsing history to provide advertisers with the information they need to target you with more specialized ads.

How does this work? Well, basically speaking, when you visit certain websites they load these things called “cookies” onto your computer, which are used to help your browser remember which sites you like visiting for future reference. What Facebook is doing is using this data so that advertisers know what kinds of products you’re interested in. This means if you look for shoes or computers a lot, you’ll see more ads related to those items on Facebook.

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The only way to opt out of this is to manually change some settings. That’s right; they aren’t giving you any real options, you either find out on your own how to remove yourself from their new “service” or you’re stuck handing over your personal data to them. Infuriating? Yeah, just a little bit. Below you’ll find a step-by-step process by which you can release yourself from Zuckerberg’s grasp, at least by a tiny amount.

1. Go to the Digital Advertising Alliance’s website.

Here’s a link to it. Note that in order for this site to work properly, you’ll need to turn off AdBlocker Plus (or anything else that prevents cookies from being loaded onto your computer). Which is ironic in itself actually…a website that allows you to opt out of targeted ads…but disallows the use of AdBlocker. Huh.

    2. Find Facebook.

    Once you’re there, you’ll see the screen shown above. Click on “Companies Customizing Ads For Your Browser.” There you’ll see a list, and you’ll want to go down until you find “Facebook Inc.”

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      3. Tell Zuckerberg to spy on someone else!

      Once you’ve located Facebook, check the box next to its name (on the right hand side). While you’re at it, feel free to opt out of other website’s ad programs by checking them on this list as well.

      When you feel comfortable with your selections, click submit. It’ll take a moment to process, and then, you’re in the clear! Well, sort of. There are still a million other things out there on the internet stealing your data, but at least you’ll be protected from the almighty Facebook (well, mostly)!

      Of course, the only way to ensure your safety would be to stop using Facebook…

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      Bonus section: Dealing with the Facebook app.

      The above steps will protect you from the browser-based Facebook…but what about that app you use all of the time on your smartphone or tablet?

        iOS users

        If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, go to Settings, General, and then Restrictions. Scroll down to the section labeled Privacy, and tap on Advertising. Switch “Limit Ad Tracking” to on and you’ll be good.

          Android users

          For those of you with an Android device, go to your Google settings, find “Ads,” and check the box that says “opt out of interest-based ads.” Now you’ll be safe from creepy advertisements as well.

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          Will these protect you from all of Facebook’s data collection practices? Probably not, since it’s likely they do a ton of stuff in the background that they never tell us about. At the very least though, you can opt out of one of the creepier ways in which they track your browsing history, and for that we should be thankful.

          For more information on Facebook’s complete privacy policy, head here, and read through it to your heart’s content. You’ll probably find a lot of moderately disturbing stuff there.

          If you have any more privacy related tips or suggestions, feel free to comment below!

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          Featured photo credit: Mark Zuckerberg/ Jim Merithew (Wired.com) via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on November 25, 2021

          How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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          How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

          There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

          Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

            What Does Private Browsing Do?

            When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

            For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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            The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

            The Terminal Archive

            While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

            Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

            dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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            Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

            Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

            However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

            Clearing Your Tracks

            Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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            dscacheutil -flushcache

            As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

            Other Browsers and Private Browsing

            Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

            If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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            As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

            Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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