“How did Facebook know that I was browsing t-shirts on Amazon?”
“Blogs know about my allergies as well?! This is weird.”
It’s no secret that surfing the Internet isn’t as private as it used to be. Every move you make, every page you visit contributes to building your digital profile. Little scripts called “trackers” are anchored to your browser for logging your browsing habits. Later, this information is fed into websites’ algorithms for displaying advertisements and promotional content tailored specifically for a particular user. Of course, if you have ever been on the interwebs, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of tools available so that you can escape from this menace. Tools that promise to block and get rid of any sort of digital footprint you leave online. Therefore, in this article, we talk about the best ones for your desktop browser and smartphone.
Desktop – Ghostery
For desktops, I would recommend installing Ghostery — a free browser extension that can restrict trackers from impeding your experience. Blocking these plugins also allows websites to load more effortlessly especially if you’re on a weak connection. More importantly, Ghostery offers a granular control over which trackers you’d like to put an end to. In addition to that, its dashboard lists out each and every tracker that has been associated with your digital profile in the past.
There’s a real-time functionality as well through which you can view active scripts for a particular page while browsing. Lastly, you can exclude a few sites and add them to a “trusted sites” list for disabling Ghostery. This can come in handy if a website refuses to function properly without trackers. The reason why I’m suggesting Ghostery over anything else is that it doesn’t skimp on the essentials and yet, manages to maintain a hassle-free design for accessing its more advanced utilities. Ghostery is entirely free of cost and supports almost every major browser including Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox and more.
Word of caution: Ghostery is known to be collecting anonymous tracker data. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can look into another extension called Privacy Badger.
Smartphones – Firefox Focus
While Ghostery itself has a mobile app as well, Firefox Focus is a better option for your smartphone. Firefox Focus is a privacy-first browser that features a slew of additional tools so that you can “Browse like no one’s watching.” As you’d expect, it lets you easily block any sort of web trackers and cookies. The app comes with a straightforward no-frills interface and weighs merely 4MB in size on Android.
You can also enable a setting that clears your history or trackers as soon as you exit the application. However, it doesn’t offer the kind of control you have with comprehensive platforms like Ghostery. In a lot of ways though, that’s a good thing as on smartphones, you usually don’t need such extensive options. Firefox Focus is free and available for both iOS and Android.
That’s it for this article, do let us know in the comments section if there’s a better alternative available in the market.