How to stop advertisers from harassing you online

We all know that tingling feeling when we see an ad online or on our phone for something we just discussed with a friend.

Big tech companies say they don’t listen to us and run ads for what they hear. I say you can never be too safe. Tap or click for a simple trick to block your computer or phone microphone.

Speaking of simple, this quick test tells you how much information your browser is leaking. Tap or click to test yours. Don’t like the results? It’s time to choose a new browser.

If you are tired of passing your private information to advertisers, here are some ways to exclude it with just a few clicks:

How do advertisers decide what to show you?

Your internet behavior dictates the advertisements you see. Through a process called retargeting, your data is analyzed to give businesses a picture of your online behavior. This list includes the sites you visit, the products you add to your cart, and the advertisements you click.

Algorithms analyze your visits over time. One method of preventing your activity from being tracked by advertisers and other malicious entities is to block or limit third-party cookies in your browser.

RELATED: Here’s what happens when someone snoops on your phone using stalkerware

How to block cookies in your browser

To block cookies in Google Chrome, simply click on the three-dot menu in the upper right corner and choose Settings. Scroll down and press Advanced, then scroll to Privacy and Security and click Site settings. Press the Cookies and site data option and activate Block third-party cookies.

For Microsoft Edge, select the three-dot menu in the upper right corner, and then choose Settings > Site permissions > Cookies and site data.

In Mozilla Firefox, tap the three-line menu in the upper right corner, and then click Settings. Choose privacy and security, then click the Custom option and tick Biscuits. To select All third-party cookies.

For Safari, choose Preferences > Private life. From here you can select Block all cookies or choose an option like Prevent cross-site tracking.

Go incognito

There is a common misconception that incognito mode hides what you browse on Google, your ISP, your work, and everything in between. This is not the case. But it deletes most of the cookies collected when you load a web page.

To use incognito mode in Chrome and Firefox, tap the menu (three dots or a line respectively in the upper right corner of the browser), then New incognito window.

To browse privately with Edge, click on the three-dot menu and choose New InPrivate window.

In Safari, click To file > New private window.

Incognito mode isn’t the solution to everything, but it does have a few practical uses. Tap or click here for six of my favorites.

Choose a security-focused option

Dropping your current search engine can also prevent advertisers from following you. One option is DuckDuckGo. It allows you to search the internet and protects your privacy. There is no tracking, collection and sharing of your personal information.

The problem: The search results you get with DuckDuckGo aren’t the best.

Tap or click for a list of search engines that respect your privacy.

Dive into your settings

Check your security and privacy settings in accounts like Facebook or Google to prevent advertisers from following you. Make sure to check the settings which include permissions, cookies, and site data.

With these settings, you can control what information websites can use and what content they show you. However, there is no guarantee that you will spare yourself from being followed by all advertisers.

Tap or click to prevent Facebook from forwarding anything you do to the highest bidder.

Remove your information from data broker sites

You have seen these scary sites. They sell all kinds of information about consumers like you to people and businesses who are willing to pay.

The large amount of data collected will make you crawl. He understands:

• Last name

• Address

• Income

• Websites you visit

• Who you connect with online

Tap or click the methods to remove your information from three popular sites.

Activate a VPN

A virtual private network, or VPN, is one of the best ways to shut out annoying advertisers. VPNs increase your privacy and security by encrypting your data, masking your online activities, and manipulating your IP address to make it look like the information is coming from a different location.

Together, these steps prevent retargeting because advertisers can’t tell where your internet activity is coming from, giving you the anonymity you deserve.

Bonus tip: Essential technological cleanings to be done before 2022

Does your digital life need a little attention? In this fun podcast, you’ll learn some cleaning secrets, along with easy ways to sort through clutter, clear up trash, and free up space on your devices. Looks like you’ve just found your new vacation plan.

Discover my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Discover all the latest technologies on the Kim Komando show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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