Online Privacy

With ever increasing actions by “Big Tech” in general to collect more and more data about us, and the rise in Governments monitoring what we are doing as well as our ISP’s, I’ve been meaning to write something like this for some time now.

But it was the recent actions by FaceBook to take down News Pages and Links (and a number of innocent bystanders with them) in response to the Australian Government’s legislation to make Social Media companies, and the likes of Google, pay for news content on their platforms, that pushed me over the tipping point.

I have also seen a number of people on FaceBook recently say they have had it with FaceBook, and will close their accounts.

So rather than close my FaceBook account, and just sit back, I instead prefer to mitigate problems where I can.

To that end, I have compiled a list of software programs and Browser Extensions/Add-on’s that will limit or stop what FaceBook can stick in your face, and what Google can see and collect, and what the likes of Government and Internet Service Providers can collect too.

  • Use a different, safer Browser

    Brave Browser

    This Browser is based on the Chromium Browser.

    It will block data-grabbing ads and trackers.

    The Brave Servers neither see nor store your browsing data. Your data stays private, on your devices, until you delete it.

    They do not sell your data to third parties.

    You can download the Brave Browser at https://brave.com/download/

  • Use a different Search Engine

    DuckDuckGo

    DuckDuckGo is an alternative internet search engine (to Google and Bing for example) that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the use of personalised search results.

    DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users, and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term (unlike Google).

    Duckduckgo’s url is https://duckduckgo.com/

  • Use an Ad Blocker

    uBlock Origin

    uBlock Origin is an open-source (unlike AdBlock Plus which most people are familiar with) and free cross-platform browser extension for content-filtering, including ad-blocking.

    The extension is available for several browsers including Chrome, Chromium, Edge, Firefox, Opera and releases of Safari prior to 13.

    The default settings on uBlock Origin are such that they block everything, whereas Ad-Block Plus let’s some things sneak through by default.

    You can download uBlock Origin at https://ublockorigin.com/

  • Take control of FaceBook

    FB Purity

    Fluff Busting Purity, or FB Purity for short, is a browser extension designed to customise the Facebook website’s user interface and add extra functionality.

    It alters your view of Facebook to show only relevant information to you.

    It lets you remove the annoying and irrelevant posts from your newsfeed such as game and application spam, ads, and sponsored posts among other things.

    So rather than shut down your FaceBook account like some have done, why not eliminate their ability to show Ads to you and affect their ability to make money from Ad revenue?

    You can download FB Purity at https://www.fbpurity.com/install.htm

  • Use a VPN

    VPN

    A VPN is a Virtual Private Network.

    It can be described as a special tunnel on the internet that can hide any data you send or receive. In other words, it encrypts the data you send and receive. This keeps your information private from your internet service provider (ISP), advertisers wanting to track your search history, and malicious people wanting to steal your data.

    It can also make it appear that you are online in another location or country.

    A VPN is particularly advantageous if you use public WiFi networks as these services tend to be less secure.

    There are several VPN products to choose from. Norton 360 has a VPN as part of that product, but it must be switched on manually every time you start your PC. And then you have products like Nord VPN and VPN Unlimited. Just be aware that there can be unintended consequences using a VPN. For example, BigPond email stops syncronising subscribed IMAP folders in Outlook using the Norton 360. Or is you are changing your default location to a different country, banking institutions may block you from accessing your account because it will look like suspicious activity.

    Pricing for Norton 360 can be found at https://au.norton.com/pricing. (FYI, I can supply this much cheaper than advertised on the Norton website).

    Pricing for Nord VPN can be found at https://nordvpn.com/pricing/

    Pricing for VPN Unlimited can be found at https://www.vpnunlimitedapp.com/pricing