Miscellaneous 3 min. read

How to block targeted ads when browsing online

How to block targeted ads when browsing online

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In case you haven’t heard of it yet, your search history is not safe from being sold by your Internet service provider to advertisers anymore if you live in the US. For ad companies and ISPs, this means more profit. For individual users, however, this means more ads – and as anyone can attest, lots of ads can be annoying.

And even if you live outside the US, targeted advertising is still an issue of privacy that affects everyone.

Don’t worry, though, as there are still a number of ways for you to block those pesky flash animations and low-res product images. Here are five simple yet effective solutions to targeted advertising.

Use ad blockers

The first solution that comes to mind when dealing with personalized advertising is the use of ad blockers. These are a type of software designed to prevent or at least minimize the appearance of advertisements on website pages, social media sites, apps and other online platforms. They can do this in a number of ways, such as by preventing images from being loaded or stopping the auto-play of Flash animation. Ad blockers are available for most computers and smartphones.

Don’t allow cookies

You’ve probably encountered a pop-up window telling you that “this website uses cookies” when visiting a website. Cookies are small packets of data sent by a website to your computer and stored there while you are using the website. It enables websites to remember information about you, like the products that you viewed on an online shopping site or information that you entered on form fields.

Cookies can be used to identify what your interests are, which can then be used to target ads that are relevant to your interests.

Delete your search history

You may have noticed that many of the ads that appear on the sites that you visit are related to your recent browser searches. This is because many browsers use the search histories of its users to deliver targeted ads. To prevent this, make sure to delete your browser history after a session. You can make this easier by using private browsing mode on your browser.

Opt out of custom ads

Browsers might tell you upfront that they are using your search history to deliver ads that suit your interests, but what they won’t tell you is that you can actually “opt out” of their targeted advertising system. Even social media sites like Facebook offer this option if you know where to look.

Google, for example, offers an option that allows its users to prevent targeted ads across all of its services and its millions of partner websites. This works for Google ads only, though, and advertisements by other companies are still going to be shown. There are a large number of other platforms that also offer opt outs, including Firefox, Facebook, Amazon, the Apple App Store and CNN.com. The websites that you frequent are probably offering them too, so try to check your settings.

Use an anonymous VPN such as Hotspot Shield

Using a anonymous free VPN such as Hotspot Shield is an effective way to prevent advertisers from showing you targeted ads.

Hotspot Shield protect your data by encrypting them. This alters your data to make it appear in a way that only the sender and the intended recipient are able to understand it. This is useful for protecting all traffic that you send and receive, not just your bank credentials and passwords, but also all other information that you input in your browser.

To learn more about this anonymous VPN and its many other benefits, visit the Hotspot Shield website. If you want to read more on how it can improve your online sessions, read out other blog posts.

Keep away those pesky targeted ads by downloading the best anonymous VPN!

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