How To Browse Privately! [+ tips and tricks]
LAST UPDATED: March 2022 (posted in April 2021)
Well, hello there!
Before we start, here's the table of contents! (Credit to IntellectualGuy's Big Python Tutorial table of contents)
- Table Of Contents (yes, really)
- What are cookies?
- Advertising cookies
- Private Browsing
- Alternatives to Google Chrome
- Blocking cookies
- Should we use AdBlock?
- Should we use DuckDuckGo?
- Clearing cookie data
- Inspecting websites
- Recap (skip here if you want to read less)
Simply said (Kurzgesagt reference), a cookie is a piece of information that websites can put to our devices.
Here's an example!
- You are logged in to Replit. (or are you?)
- When you login to Replit, Replit puts some cookies to your device.
- The cookies might contain information about your account and other things
- Even when you shut down your device, the cookies are still there.
- When you open Replit again, Replit sees the cookie in your device and automatically signs you in! You don't need to login anymore!
From the previous example, we can see that cookies are VERY useful to websites we are logged in to!
That being said, some cookies can travel from websites to websites, following us around.
These global cookies include...
Remember that same ad that just creeps you around the websites you visit?
Basically, whatever we search in Google (and YouTube) will be collected to show relevant ads. Google has lots of advertising platforms - AdSense, AdWords, AdMob, AdChoices, and even Doubleclick! That's because Google gets most of their revenue from advertising. Some sources even say 83% of Google's revenue comes from ads alone!
Of course, website owners get money if we click an ad in their websites. (based on my research, website owners get 60% of ad revenue while Google gets 40%)
- To get money, website owners must display ads.
- To display ads, website owners must include Google cookies.
See the pattern here? Yep, Google cookies are (nearly) EVERYWHERE.
Google pretty much knows what websites we visit, where we are right now, etc.
Quite literally, Google is watching us.
Ehm, cue intense music.
Where's the music guy?
(BLUE DANUBE PLAYS)
No, no, not that one...
Fine, whatever. Anyways, onto the next chapter!
As I said earlier, Google gets tons of revenue from advertising.
Google Chrome is owned by (you won't guess it) GOOGLE!
Thus, Google Chrome allows all cookies by default. You can turn it off in the
Settings > Cookies and other site data, but I don't really recommend this. Why?
We will be signed out from Replit and other websites we have accounts at. To make things worse, we can't login again!
Google products won't work well. We will be signed out from Google Chrome and other Google products we use!
That doesn't stop Google from tracking us. Google Chrome sends data about whatever sites we visit to Google. It's still not private! (This is true according to the many sources I visit and logic. If Google Chrome lets everyone track you, of course they'll also let Google track you!)
(I am aware there are several settings in Google that can turn off tracking, but I seriously doubt that.)
The only way to stop Google from tracking us is to use another browser. (But Google Chrome can still be used for Google products, even though I don't recommend using them)!
A lot. There are:
- Firefox (I personally use Firefox in desktop)
- Safari (However, according to my research, several sources say Safari doesn't care about our privacy!)
- Tor (The most secure and private browser I know of)
- Microsoft Edge
- Ungoogled Chromium
- and more!
You can pick whichever browser you like, but remember each comes with its
cons. Here's the pros and cons of each browser!
Those browsers obviously don't belong to Google and they won't give any data to Google. However, Google can still track us using cookies!
Time to block them.
You can also watch this (in my opinion) hillarious video if you'd like to learn more!
Obviously, we can just go to the settings tab in the browser, then block all cookies. This way we can browse truly privately!
Also, blocking cookies literally make your internet browsing much faster. (I did my own experiment in early 2021, and blocking cookies make websites load more than twice faster!) Great!
Congratulations, we can browse privately now! 🥳🥳🥳
As a bonus, I will give you more tips and tricks.
AdBlock is used by millions of people worldwide! So, should we use it?
- AdBlock's current owner is unknown. We don't know who owns it (and I personally don't really trust them)
- Several websites force us to disable AdBlock.
- There are better alternatives such as
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn't track us!
I'll explain in the following table!
|Tracking||Lots of cookies||No tracking cookies|
|Results||Biased results||Unbiased results|
|Content||Has graphs, diagrams etc||No graphs, no diagrams|
* DuckDuckGo has cookies, but they're not for tracking and probably are for remembering our settings in the search engine.
However, some inappropriate results may appear in DuckDuckGo. That's why we should set SafeSearch to strict! Searching in safe.duckduckgo.com sets SafeSearch to strict by default!
The Tor browser uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engines, signifying that DuckDuckGo is trusted.
Should we use DuckDuckGo? Yes, yes we should.
Also, DuckDuckGo has a handy feature called bangs!
Since we have blocked cookies in our other browser, we don't need to clear cookie data there.
But we can actually clear cookie data in Google Chrome!
In desktop, go to
Settings > Security and Privacy > Site Settings > View permissions and data stored across sites.
In mobile, go to
Settings > Site Settings > Data stored.
There, we can clear selected site data and see all the cookies that have been stored!
When browsing in our private browser, some arrogant websites (such as wired.com and globalnews.ca) refuse to give us access since we block their cookies or use specific browsers such as Tor! How do we fix this?
Go to the settings, then block
Alternatively, you can stop loading the page before it fully loads and disappears! This doesn't always work though.
If you're curious about the source code of a website, or want to tweak some things, you can do just that with inspecting! However, inspecting is only avaible in desktop browsers.
By the way, go to your chosen browser settings and enable
HTTPS-Only Mode if avaible. This is because URLs that start with
https:// are more secure than
Cookies are bits of information that websites can put to our devices. Websites can see what information the cookies contain.
Google's main source of revenue is advertising. According to some sources, 83% of Google's revenue comes from ads. Thus, Google tracks us across the web to see what websites we visit and give us relevant ads based on the data collected.
In other words, Google is watching us.
To stop that, we must use another browser like Firefox, Safari, Brave, Tor, Ungoogled Chromium (which is not the same as Chromium), or Microsoft Edge and disable cookies for private browsing.
Using AdBlock is not recommended as the owner is unknown. There are better alternatives such as
AdBlock Plus and
DuckDuckGo is a great search engine which doesn't track us, loads faster, and has some handy features such as the bang feature. However, strict SafeSearch must be used to hide inaproppriate results. This can be done by visiting safe.duckduckgo.com. DuckDuckGo also has a browser for mobile, where we can join
Email Protection Beta and
App Tracking Protection Beta services. Other search engines such as Searx can be used as an alternative.
In your chosen browser, search a tutorial to inspect websites. Then, follow the tutorial to view the source files, console etc of any website and access stuff.
Enable HTTPS-Only Mode in your chosen browser since URLs starting with
https:// are more secure than those starting with
Ungoogled Chromium is not the same as Chromium, so beware. Chromium possibly tracks us!
I downloaded Tor in mobile. It randomizes my location to several countries (so far all the countries are in Europe!) Also, it doesn't block cookies but deletes cookie data after exiting the browser.
DuckDuckGo has a browser for mobile! It only blocks cross-site tracking cookies. It does have a feature to clear all cookies though, and you can join the
App Tracking Protection Betaand the
Email Protection Betaservices for free!
Alternatively, you can use other search engines like Searx.
Ecosia won't give you access if you block cookies, so don't use it!
Incognito mode in Google Chrome doesn't stop Google and websites from tracking us! Moral of the story: DON'T USE GOOGLE CHROME.
Google made a "privacy-friendly version" of YouTube (
- @caaaab for telling me about what happens with
CLICK ALLOW TO VERIFYscams,
- @smodnix for telling me about
- @CodeLongAndPros for reminding me about
- @BrockTempler for reminding me about
- @Whippingdot for telling me about
Microsoft Edge, and
- @xxpertHacker and @smodnix for reminding me about
Thanks for reading! (I mean, it's okay if you skipped some parts since this is REALLY long)
If you have any suggestions or corrections, feel free to tell me!
Also, sorry I don't have the list of sources I used...
and did I use too many exclamation marks?
Now, let's test your eyesight!
C̸̫͈̻̹̿̈́ͅă̷̞̝̻̈̋̒̈́͠n̴̛̘͓͉͆͜ ̸̹̹͔͆̔̆̄̿̐͜ͅy̷̨̡̲͉̯̣̝͌̓̈́ǫ̶̝̹̇́̓͠u̸̝̪͉͇̺͚̹͌̃̎͆̌͗̏͘͠ ̷̗̺͍͙̋̀͗ȑ̵͉̦͗̋̒͊́͝͝e̷̢̻̝̪̔̈́̈́̂̒̂̚̕͝ā̴̙̱̺͕͂́͜ḏ̸̢͍͓̲̰̮͒̈͊̚͜ ̷̧͚͈̫̳̱̄̾͛̏̈̕͝͝ͅť̸̟̘̈́͛́́̊̉̓̚̚h̷̪̗̲̯̫̱͚̩̩̽̉̀̀̑̒̽̎i̶̡̯̼͂̊̏̌s̸̠̏̽̆̆̂?̸̟̘̖̻̞̼͈̃͒͆͐̚
And remember to stay cautious. Don't download anything if you don't think it's legitimate!
There's also a channel called
The Hated Onein YouTube. (Watching in YouTube results in tracking, so it's better to use non-tracking APKs like NewPipe to watch YouTube videos). The channel has great videos about internet tips and tricks! Here's the link to the channel:
Also, please note that Google and other companies track you in many other different ways. THEY'RE NOT JUST ABOUT BROWSING. You can research yourself! The more you research, the more you know, the more you can do.
If you see an ad that offers free services, remember that they get money from something else... most likely by selling your data! I suggest you to not use advertised free services like Honey.
I believe privacy is important, both in the real world and the digital world. As you've spent time reading this tutorial, I believe you do too. If so, share this with other people or teach them yourself!
I posted a comment about how Google tries to replace third-party cookies and keep our data to themselves using a program called
FLoC. You can read it! (As of February 2022, Google has replaced
FLoCwith a new tracking agent called
Bye and thanks again!
This is great! I learned a lot! I never knew that Google owned Google Chrome!
But seriously, this is really great!
Hello everyone, I would like you (yes, YOU) to know that Google has not-so-recently launched a program to track users called Federated Learning of Cohorts (or
FLoC for short).
According to the sources I have read (see sources down below),
FLoC is basically Google's attempt to replace third-party cookies and keep your data for themselves!
In order to keep this post short, you can see the sources here:
Also, I still use some Google services on Google Chrome, yet I have not been informed of this change. Google is automating the
FLoC program instead of letting us choose! Thankfully though, pretty much nobody else supports
P.S. I got this information by searching news in DuckDuckGo.
...and thanks again for reading! Have a good day!
@smodnix hey, that's really cool! Upon seeing your comment, I went to Chromium and turned off the cookies. I conducted a Google search and no cookies were stored! I really like it, even more than Firefox (since Firefox allows Mozilla to track us)!
As for Searx, I actually recommend DuckDuckGo because of the BANGS! and faster loading.
Anyways, I'll add Chromium to the post. Thanks!
@smodnix I didn't know about that! Thanks, I'll look it up!
Oh, and by the way, Google is trying to stop users from using Searx!
Yup, the real Searx website is NOT in the results. However, with DuckDuckGo (whose results are unbiased)...
It's the very first result! This is basically proof that Google is trying DESPERATELY to keep everyone (including us) using only Google products.
Really, if not for the fact that my school uses Google Classroom, I would've quit Google pretty much ENTIRELY except for GMail.
Still though, I like Searx! Thanks again for telling me!
I've had some experience with the sites that make you click 'allow' to continue. The ones I've encountered just sit in the background and just give you notifications in the bottom right of your screen like an email or YouTube notification and tell you things that may scare the user into doing something. It's more of phishing than malware and is easily removable by going into your browser settings and removing the site from your allowed notifications. Otherwise, great tutorial!
Bruh add MSEdge to the option of browsers. I use it and it is POG and has WAY more features than Chrome.
P.S. The bang feature looks pretty cool, but I am probs not gonna use duckduckgo cause it has less features than edge.
@Whippingdot okay, thanks! I'll add it after I research!
But I am probs not gonna use duckduckgo cause it ha less features than edge.
Microsoft's search engine is called Bing (which stores cookies) so DuckDuckGo is better imo.
Also, I said Safari, Brave,
etc so you can use other browsers too!
Hey, another thing, I saw that you said you to go to Google Chrome and press
f12 or whatever. You can also do that in Edge cause it is chromium based. The whole post basically says to not use Chrome so you can add 'or Edge' everywhere you write that you need Chrome for the
F12 inspect. @Th3Coder
Pretty good article!
Several websites force us to disable AdBlock.
for those annoying pop ups that say something like "We know you're not here for ads, but please to keep this free take off your blocker", I just manually block the popup, as well as the kind of "blur" screen behind it, and that's about all! :)
Regarding virus download, sites can't do much without user permission+interaction, so when you are asked to down load an anti-virus program, more often than not, the button is going to download a virus ;)
Also, you can block JS on a site-by-site basis, I recommend this over en-masse blocking JS.
Wow, very pog tutorial. I would use duckduckgo however the auto-answer is very important to me and I feel that google and bing just look better.
@xxpertHacker what I mean by auto-answer is when the answer appears when we type something! If we type
how long do cats live in Google, we'll get the answer immediately! But we don't in DDG...
But yes, once we see the results there could be auto-answer! If we search
DuckDuckGo in DDG and Google, the answer will automatically appear in the right side of the screen.
I learnt many new things about the browser today which i didnt knew about before :P such as how adBlock is risky and some new names of the browsers which i didn't ever heard before. And the ending quiz answer is - "Can you read this?" (I'm smart(not really..lol))And Sorry i didn't read whole as it was lengthy.
Your article is very detailed and easy to understand, This is a must for readers who need advanced knowledge like me, thanks! [link removed by moderator]
use tor my G very encrypted protected smh even the government can't track you without doing a lot of work and if you have a VPN on while on tor its impossible for them to track you even your internet provider can't see you
There is an ad block for youtube!
@OatMilk ohh... thanks for the information! As I am aware though, this extension is different from the AdBlock.
Here's the link to AdBlock:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/adblock-%E2%80%94-best-ad-blocker/gighmmpiobklfepjocnamgkkbiglidom (see the difference? The extension you are referring to is separate from AdBlock!)
Also, I'll add this to the post.