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6 Ways to Avoid Being Tracked on Social Media




Social media platforms have become a part and parcel of our lives, providing us with a convenient way to connect with others and share information. However, the data we share online is valuable, and social media companies and advertisers are eager to collect it. As a result, tracking users' behavior has become a common practice, posing significant risks to user privacy and security. In this essay, we will discuss in-depth how to prevent being tracked on social media and protect your privacy.


1. Review your privacy settings


The first and most critical step in preventing being tracked on social media is to review and adjust your privacy settings. Most social media platforms offer privacy settings that allow users to control who can see their content, as well as what information they share with third-party advertisers. By reviewing and adjusting these settings, users can limit the amount of data that is collected about them and prevent unwanted tracking.


For instance, on Facebook, users can change their privacy settings by clicking on the "Settings & Privacy" option in the drop-down menu on the top right corner of their profile. From there, they can select "Privacy Checkup," which guides them through the different privacy settings options, such as who can see their posts and what information they share with third-party apps.

Similarly, on Twitter, users can go to the "Settings and Privacy" menu and choose "Privacy and Safety," where they can control who can see their tweets, limit ad tracking, and more.


2. Use a VPN


Using a virtual private network (VPN) is another effective way to prevent being tracked on social media. A VPN encrypts internet traffic and masks a user's IP address, making it difficult for third-party advertisers to track their online activity. VPNs also help protect users from hackers and other security threats, making them a valuable tool for online privacy and security.

To use a VPN, users can install a VPN software on their device, which encrypts their internet traffic and reroutes it through a remote server. This means that the user's IP address is hidden, and their online activity is encrypted, making it difficult for anyone to track or intercept it.

There are many VPN providers available in the market, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost, among others. These VPNs offer various features and subscription plans, making it easy for users to choose the best option for their needs.

There are also several free VPN options as well as their individual pros and cons below:


ProtonVPN


ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based VPN service that offers a free plan with limited features, as well as paid plans with more advanced features. The free plan includes access to servers in three countries, and unlimited bandwidth. However, it only allows for one device connection at a time and does not support P2P file sharing.

Pros:

• Strong encryption and privacy features

• No data logging policy

• Reliable and stable connection

• Ad-free

Cons:

• Limited server options and device connections

• Slow speeds on the free plan

• No support for P2P file sharing


Windscribe


Windscribe is a Canadian VPN service that offers a free plan with 10GB of data per month, as well as paid plans with more data and features. The free plan includes access to servers in 10 countries, and supports P2P file sharing. However, it only allows for one device connection at a time.


Pros:

• Generous data limit on the free plan

• Strong encryption and privacy features

• Ad and malware blocking

• Supports P2P file sharing

Cons:

• Limited device connections

• Limited server options on the free plan

• Can be slow at times


Hide.me


Hide.me is a Malaysian VPN service that offers a free plan with limited features, as well as paid plans with more advanced features. The free plan includes access to servers in five countries, and supports P2P file sharing. However, it only allows for one device connection at a time, and has a data limit of 2GB per month.


Pros:

• Strong encryption and privacy features

• No data logging policy

• Supports P2P file sharing

• Ad-free

Cons:

• Limited server options and device connections

• Low data limit on the free plan

• Can be slow at times


Hotspot Shield


Hotspot Shield is a US-based VPN service that offers a free plan with limited features, as well as paid plans with more advanced features. The free plan includes access to servers in one country, and has a data limit of 500MB per day. However, it only allows for one device connection at a time.


Pros:

• Fast speeds on the free plan

• Ad-free

• Easy-to-use interface

• Strong encryption and privacy features

Cons:

• Limited server options and device connections

• Low data limit on the free plan

• Does not support P2P file sharing


TunnelBear


TunnelBear is a Canadian VPN service that offers a free plan with limited features, as well as paid plans with more advanced features. The free plan includes access to servers in 23 countries, and has a data limit of 500MB per month. However, it only allows for one device connection at a time.

Pros:

• Easy-to-use interface

• Strong encryption and privacy features

• Ad-free

• Supports P2P file sharing

Cons:

• Limited server options and device connections

• Low data limit on the free plan

• Can be slow at times


3. Avoid clicking on suspicious links


Phishing attacks are a common method used by hackers to gain access to users' personal information and track their online activity. These attacks typically involve sending a user a link to a malicious website or asking them to download an infected file. To prevent being tracked, users should avoid clicking on suspicious links and only download files from trusted sources.

Phishing attacks can be difficult to identify, as they often appear to be legitimate emails or messages from reputable sources. However, users can protect themselves by looking for signs of suspicious activity, such as emails from unknown senders, requests for personal information, and urgent messages.


If a user suspects they have received a phishing email, they should not click on any links or download any files. Instead, they should report the email to their email provider and delete it immediately.


4. Use ad-blocking software


Ad-blocking software can be an effective tool for preventing tracking on social media. These programs work by blocking ads and tracking cookies, preventing advertisers from collecting data on a user's online activity. Ad-blocking software can also help speed up internet browsing and reduce the risk of malware infections.


There are many ad-blocking software options available, such as AdBlock, uBlock Origin, and Ghostery, among others. These programs work by analyzing web page content and blocking ads and tracking cookies, preventing them from loading on the user's device.

It is worth noting that some social media platforms may try to detect ad-blockers and prevent users from accessing their content. In such cases, users may have to disable their ad-blockers temporarily or use alternative browsers or extensions.


5. Limit the amount of personal information shared


Another effective way to prevent being tracked on social media is to limit the amount of personal information shared. Social media platforms often collect data on users' personal information, such as their name, location, age, and interests, among others. By limiting the amount of information shared, users can reduce the risk of being tracked and protect their privacy.

For instance, users can avoid using their real names or sharing their exact location on social media. They can also avoid sharing sensitive information, such as their phone number or home address, and use alternative email addresses and phone numbers for their social media accounts.


6. Use privacy-focused social media platforms


Lastly, users can consider using privacy-focused social media platforms as an alternative to mainstream platforms. These platforms are designed to prioritize user privacy and offer features such as end-to-end encryption and anonymous browsing, making it difficult for third-party advertisers to track users' online activity.


Some popular privacy-focused social media platforms include Signal, Telegram, and MeWe, among others. These platforms offer features such as encrypted messaging, private groups, and more, making them an excellent choice for users who prioritize their privacy and security.


Conclusion


In conclusion, being tracked on social media can pose significant risks to user privacy and security. However, there are several effective ways to prevent tracking and protect personal information online. By reviewing privacy settings, using a VPN, avoiding clicking on suspicious links, using ad-blocking software, limiting personal information shared, and using privacy-focused social media platforms, users can protect their privacy and security online. It is essential to remember that online privacy is a continuous effort, and users must remain vigilant and aware of the risks to stay safe online.


References:


1. 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online" by the National Cyber Security Alliance https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/online-safety-basics/top-10-tips-for-online-safety/

2. "How to Stop Facebook From Tracking You" by Consumer Reports https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/how-to-stop-facebook-from-tracking-you/

3. "How to Use a VPN to Protect Your Internet Privacy" by Wired https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-use-a-vpn/

4. "How to Stay Safe on Social Media: 18 Expert Tips" by Norton LifeLock https://www.nortonlifelock.com/blogs/consumer-cyber-security/how-to-stay-safe-on-social-media

5. "What Is Social Engineering?" by Norton LifeLock https://www.nortonlifelock.com/blogs/security-center/what-is-social-engineering

6. "The Best Ad Blockers for Chrome You Can Download Today" by Digital Trends https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-ad-blockers-chrome/

7. "Privacy-Focused Social Networks" by Electronic Frontier Foundation https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/04/privacy-focused-social-networks

8. "10 Best VPN Services 2021: Only These Passed ALL Tests" by VPN Mentor https://www.vpnmentor.com/bestvpns/

9. "The Best Free VPNs for 2022." PCMag, 10 Mar. 2022, https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-free-vpns.

10. "Best Free VPN Services in 2022." TechRadar, 16 Feb. 2022, https://www.techradar.com/vpn/best-free-vpn.

11. "Free VPNs." ProPrivacy, https://proprivacy.com/vpn/comparison/free-vpn.



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