Read this, even if you don't care about your privacy...
Privacy is not the most fun, or most interesting topic to talk about. Agreed? Though, when I ask someone 'do you care about your privacy?', the immediate answer would typically be 'yes, I do!'
I've been hearing this answer frequently, but often when I ask what they do to be private around the web, the other side remains silent.
I started working with Presearch about three years ago (2017), I learned a lot about how our data is being stored and used without us evening realising it. It was at that moment where I started to figure out the options I have to improve my privacy on the web.
Now, here's a question for you: Do you really care about your privacy? Do you do anything to be more private while surfing the browser?
Here's a few reasons why I think you might want to consider doing so:
1. Knowledge is Power
I was shocked to learn how biased all the media we see on the news, all the information we find online, and content we see on social media is. Just a couple of companies 'own' the personal data of most of the people in the world. This is more than just a little concerning.
Companies like Facebook and Google show information based on your preferences. Why? They simply want you to spend as much time on their platforms as possible, so that they can earn more money. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind seeing ads on cat products, fitness products, or what so ever. But I do care about how it affects people during elections, how it affects people opinion on certain topics or situation and how much control they actually have.
On top of that, it's not just the handful of companies doing this. There's various examples of governments censoring the internet, even shutting it down, to prevent their citizens from accessing certain websites or information.
2. Freedom of Speech
Personally, I believe anyone should be free to speak their minds. However, there sure are dangers in doing so on the internet. First, It's a common practice for government intelligence and security agencies to spy on citizens online to help law enforcers. Second, you never know whom you may trigger.
I was shocked multiple times while scrolling through Twitter, seeing what people put out there on their personal profile. Some people send out so much hate towards others, that it simply makes me want to ignore the whole topic on Twitter. Not only is it ignorant, it's also very dangerous as well as there's plenty of examples of people getting fired for what they said on social media. Or people would even try and trace someone in real life for what one said online. Now these are extreme examples, but be careful with what you share online and always think twice as it's hard to erase things from the internet.
3. Identity Theft
Now, the chances of your identity being stolen online are pretty small. However, in 2017 alone more than 17 million American citizens had their identities stolen online. It doesn't take a lot for criminals to steal your identity through phishing, spyware, malware, and other techniques. So be careful with the data you share on websites and don't share your bank details on unknown websites. Never click on links or attachments sent by people you don't know and change your password every now and then. The biggest tip I can give you is to enable 2FA when possible, this makes it much more difficult for a hacker to access your data.
There are so many more reasons I can give about why you should work on your privacy. However, I'd love to see a discussion in the comments, or ideas in the comments that some of us might not have thought of yet.
So here we go again: Do you value your privacy? What do you do about it?
Here's what I do to be more private and secure online:
1. Browse & Earn with Brave Browser
Brave Browser has helped me a lot. After using it for almost two years, Brave blocked over 200,000 ads and trackers and saved me about 3 hours of loading time.
Brave Browser enables you to block trackers and ads that trace you on the web. It also upgrades connections to a more secure HTTPS connection and it allows you to automatically block cookies. On top of that I use private windows, so that Brave never remembers which pages I have visited, and cookies are automatically removed after I close my window. If you want a full anonymous browsing experience, you would be better off using Tor Browser though. You can register for Brave for free here.
2. Search & Earn with Presearch
I use the Presearch search engine as my default search engine on Brave. At Presearch we're building a decentralized search engine, that is community-driven. The new Vision Paper was recently released and node-based architecture is scheduled to go live in Q4, 2020.
Even without search nodes, Presearch already offers very accurate (local) searches which are more private than if you were to use Google. Once nodes are live, you're looking at even much more private and accurate search results.
On top of that, Presearch rewards its users with the PRE Token for searching the web. Meaning you're getting a piece of the pie that you're not getting anywhere else. You can register an account for free, easily set Presearch as your default search provider here (desktop), or download the mobile app.
3. Social Media
All my social profiles are private, meaning people will have to request to follow me or become friends with me before being able to see my information. I barely post stuff on Facebook, but I do get tagged in posts or photos every now and then. I'm a frequent user of Instagram, and I frequently post photos as I love traveling and love sharing my traveling experiences. This is where I give up a lot of my privacy, though within the boundaries of only people I know seeing it. As for tracking, I'm aware Instagram / Facebook are tracking a lot of my data, and I definitely notice this by looking at what content I see on both platforms, as well as what advertisements I see.
Am I a good example of a private person on the internet? Probably not the best, but I try to be cautious. I still share a lot of my information online, and I don't think it takes a lot of effort for someone to find me on for example LinkedIn. Though, I don't mind this as I control what people see of me on the internet, and I don't regret anything I've posted online in my life. I know there are a lot of areas where I could still be more private, but I think a great first step is being aware of the importance of privacy.