Online privacy is dead! You cannot do anything to protect it.

This is what these organisations want you to believe. Mark Zuckerburg – CEO of Facebook said to Congress “privacy was no longer a social norm”. This is from an organisation that makes billions in profit from manipulating and monetising its users. The good news is that you can still use the Internet but in a safe and private way. You do not have to be manipulated and monetised. You and your family can have privacy online you only need to be shown how to do this. Let me show you how you can take simple steps to protect your privacy and personal safety.

Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is the amount of your data that is harvested and stored online. You need to take practical steps to reduce your digital footprint. The less data that can be harvested from you results in your social profile being worth less and less. The smaller your digital footprint the more privacy you and your family have. Below are the steps you can take to reduce your digital footprint and take back your online privacy and protect your personal safety.

How private is social media?

Social media platforms like Facebook go to extreme lengths to harvest all the data about you and sell access to it. Facebook will use any method to extract personal data from its users as its users are just a commodity to be bought and sold. Their social (surveillance) platform is the perfect platform to harvest all the data from its users.

This company profits from the knowledge that someone has a disease, or has lost their loved one in an accident, or has been a victim of rape.

Facebook is the world’s most toxic surveillance platform on planet Earth. Its own internal research highlighted the damage its products are doing to the mental health of its users. Over the past five years Facebook has been fined 5 billion for severe invasions of privacy. There is NO privacy when you post personal information on Facebook. All the data is harvested and analysed by Facebook and anyone who is willing to pay can have access to this data. Facebook is so confident in its understanding of people and their preferences (from the vast amount of data it has on its users) that Facebook can essentially guarantee a certain number of people will do certain things. From the vast amounts of data, it has on its users it can easily manipulate them into doing whatever Facebook wants them to do. From the testimony and evidence of whistle-blowers that worked at Facebook we know the power of manipulation that Facebook has over its users.

Ideally it would be more beneficial if you could delete your Facebook account and associated apps and move over to a more private social media platform like MEWE. I appreciate that this may be hard for some users to do as the platform is designed to be addictive as Facebook needs you to stay on the platform so it can continue to harvest your family’s data to sell. I would therefore recommend removing all personal data from your profile and keep the information you share on this platform to a minimum. Everything you share on this platform is NOT private. This also goes for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp (owed by Facebook) and Instagram.

Remember even the founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg does not let his family use Facebook.

Is there a private alternative to WhatsApp or Instagram?

I come across many people who are unaware that WhatsApp is owed by Facebook. They assumed that WhatsApp is a private communication platform. This unfortunately is not the case. In 2014, when Facebook decided that it wanted to add WhatsApp to the ‘Facebook Family,’ the European Union (EU) only approved the deal after Facebook assured them that the two companies, and their data, would be kept separate. It didn’t take long for Facebook to go back on this agreement. In 2016, WhatsApp updated its Privacy Policy to allow sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook. Although they didn’t reveal the full extent of this data transfer, it included your phone number and your usage data, like when you last used the service.

In January 2021, Facebook released a new data sharing policy for WhatsApp, mandating the transfer of your information between the messaging app and social network. One of the primary issues with WhatsApp is that it is owned by Facebook and suffers many of the same privacy dangers and misinformation campaigns as their parent company.

Signal is a private and secure messing service. It is so private that Mark Zuckerberg uses it instead of WhatsApp. Signal has all the features that you will find in WhatsApp but is private. All your data, including metadata is not stored by signal servers. Both cryptography experts and privacy advocates recommend Signal. I can personally recommend Signal as a privacy alternative to WhatsApp, and it is my main communication platform.

Is there search engine that do not track you?

Google, Yahoo and Bing track all your searches and this data is added to your social profile. Your search terms are very valuable to these tech organisations. The other issue with Google search is that it only shows you results that they have been paid to show you. So, you do not see an un-biased view of the Internet just what Google has been paid to show you. This allows Google to control the feed of data to its users and control what they see and read and what they think is true. The power Google has on information control and the manipulation of its users is staggering.

Startpage and DuckDuckGo are privacy-based search engines that do not track you. Their results are non-biased and are not shared with any other organisation. To use Startpage or DuckDuckGo just type this into a search engine and click on the link to be taken to their website. I have included a helpful guide to show you how to configure Firefox browse to make Startpage the default search engine.

Are there any private email services?

A honeypot is an online place where these data harvesting companies can access a large amount of data about a user. These honeypots are a lucrative money earner. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Outlook (Live & Hotmail) free email accounts are the perfect honeypot as users store large amounts of your data that can be add to their social profile. There is no privacy if you use these email accounts. Your emails, calendar, contacts are all read, recorded, stored, and sold. The data harvested from these email accounts are very valuable to tech companies.

Tutanota is a free privacy-based email services that offer private encrypted email. I have been using Tutanota for a few years and I can highly recommend them to anyone who wants to use a privacy focused email account. They need NO personal information to set up an account.

Migrate your email account to Tutanota is a straightforward process. Keep your original email account open until you have forwarded all the email you wish to keep to your Tutanota account. Send an email message from your original account to everyone you wish to use your Tutanota account. When they are all using your Tutanota email address then close your original account. There is no advertising in Tutanota so it is a more enjoyable experience, and the interface is so simple any one can find their way around. If you need help or advice on how to migrate your email account to Tutanota then please feel free to email me.

Is there a private alternative to Google maps?

When you use Google maps your location is tracked and recorded. Google can track you and your family’s location inside and outside, to a few metres. This location information is available to anyone who is willing to pay Google for access. The personal safety implications of this extremely accurate tracking are immense. Anyone can know where you and your family members are any time of day or night.

I would recommend turning off Location Tracking. This feature is found in the Settings of your phone. Search online for instructions on how to turn off Location tracking.

HereWeGo Maps is a more privacy-based mapping service. They have an app for your phone and an online web-based mapping service as well. I have made them my main online mapping tool.

Is there a private alternative to Chrome or IE (Edge) browsers?

When you use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge (Internet Explorer) browsers to surf the web they track everything you do online. Google Chrome browser is the most privacy destroying of any browser on the market today. As Google’s business model is monetizing your users’ information then their browser is the ideal way to access that data. Google Chrome collects more data than any of the other browsers even if you are using their incognito mode. A browser does not need to collect every bit of a user’s data to function.

Firefox and the Brave browsers are more privacy based. Brave also has plugins that protect you from hidden Facebook and Google trackers that are on most websites. If you are using the Firefox browser (it is my main browser), then I would suggest installing the following plugins to protect you from trackers (be careful installing other plugins that are not listed below as some can be malicious):

UBlocker Origin, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger, Cookie Autodelete, Decentraleyes, Clear URL & CanvasBlocker.

I would also suggest changing the default search engine to Startpage or DuckDuckGo.

Compartmentalisation

Use separate browsers when using data harvesting sites. This is called compartmentalisation. For example, I use Firefox browser for my main surfing and Brave browser for accessing You Tube. This way Google/Amazon & Microsoft will only be able to harvest my browsing history from the Brave browser as I never use Google/Amazon & Microsoft services on Firefox.

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