you know the drill. You are surfing online and find yourself on a clothing site, a cooking site, a real estate site or any other site that is selling you something.
After a while, you decide you’re done and continue surfing, only to see ads for the site you left appear everywhere. It gets really annoying.
However, it’s only worse than advertisers tracking you online. They are creating a personality profile that they can sell to other advertisers and third parties. So much for privacy.
The good news is that you can prevent them.
Before I take steps to stop them, let me tell you how they are tracking you. In a word: cookies.
No, not like a chocolate chip. I don’t think many people would mind if that were the case.
Cookies in this context are small files almost every website saves on your computer. Files store your settings and preferences so that you don’t have to enter the same information over and over. These “first-party” cookies are usually harmless.
However, there are other types of cookies called third-party cookies. These are the ones who spy on you and track you from site to site.
So, for example, if you visit a home decorating blog, a third-party cookie will record your visit. Then you can go to another website and see ads related to home decoration.
If this sounds a little scary to you, you’re not alone. Many people are fed up with spying on third-party cookies.
It’s not just advertisers tracking you.
So let’s put an end to this.
To get rid of third-party cookies you already have, try a cleaning program like CCleaner. It will offer to clear the cookies on your hard drive, and it can only target third-party cookies.
You can also delete all your cookies and start again, but this may make the sites you use a little less friendly for a while. You’ll need to log back in and update any settings you have.
Once third-party cookies expire, you’ll need to change your browser settings to keep them away.
For Internet Explorer, click the gear in the top right corner and select Internet Options. Go to the Privacy tab and click on the Advanced button. Check the option “Override automatic cookie handling”, and then set “Third-party cookies” to “Block”. Click on OK button.
In Google Chrome, click the three-lined icon in the top right corner of your screen and select Settings. Under the Settings section, click the “Show advanced settings” link at the bottom. In the Privacy section, click the Content Settings button. Under Cookies, check the option “Block third-party cookies and site data” and click Done.
For Firefox, click the three-lined icon in the top-right corner of your screen and choose Options (PC) or Preferences (Mac). Go to the Privacy tab and under History, set “Firefox will” to “Use custom settings for history”. Then set “Accept third-party cookies” to “Never”.
If you use Safari, third party cookies are turned off by default, but it never hurts to double check. Pull down the Safari menu and select the Privacy tab. Select the option to block cookies from third parties and advertisers.
Blocking third-party cookies should not have a noticeable effect on the sites you use. However, if you notice that a site is not working properly, go back to your browser’s cookie settings to make an exception for that site.
Don’t let spies see where you are online. Here’s how to put your browser in full privacy mode.