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How to Get back your online privacy

Regular readers of my blog, may have noticed something rather significant in during May 2019 concerning my blog. The somewhat sudden disappearance of the annoying adverts. I removed adverts from not only this blog, but also from several other blogs that I run.

It was a decision, that I took which actually does have some of a financial implication on myself. Although I wasn't making huge bundles of cash, the revenue generated from the adverts on my blog actually did bring in more than enough revenue to cover the costs running them and actually help fuel growth.

Despite this, I feel it's also a decision I needed to make, in order to help create a better web. I know the actions I'm taking are rather small in the wider context and I'm in no doubt that the powerhouses which are ultimately responsible for a what I believe are actually the reasons of the decay on the internet won't actually miss the money my sites were helping them to generate. However, I'm hoping that many others will gradually follow me on the path.

Why I removed Ads

I have been using Google Adsense and then laterly ezoic in conjunction with Google Adsense, to generate revenue on my blog since 2016. In that time, I have always had between 3-4 adverts per page on my site, in that time.

Over the years, I was able to make between $2 - $11 a day from adverts, which is actually on the lower end of what some people are able to generate from adverts. I know people in some of the various blogging communities I'm a member of that are able to to generate revenues in excess of $100 a day for being part of more lucrative advertising networks, which all also depend on you being a valid member of the Google Adsense network.

The downside to all this advertising on websites is that they are often distracting, especially if you are in work mode, and inevitably it means your users are being tracked and their privacy invaded . All in the hope that you can generate a little revenue.

This obviously means, that as a blogger you're kind of weirdly sacrificing your readers privacy for the sake of a penny or cent or so per visit. So you essentially become complicit in the act of the dissolution of privacy!

Why is privacy important?

Most advertising schemes place a cookie to track which websites you visit.  This information is then used to profile you,  apparently anonymously,  in order to provide more relevant adverts for products which may appeal to you.

This results in a lot data about you and your interests being made available to a number of organisations, and the odds are that more organisations who have access to your data the greater your chances are of being exposed to internet fraud or identity theft or worse your data being used by others for even more malicious intent!

I live in the UK, and if you haven't heard, but over the past few years we have some serious problems in our Political and democratic systems. Mostly to do with the huge waste of time and resources which is commonly referred to as The Brexit .

Without getting too political, my stance on The Brexit , is that I am not really either pro or against it. I just firmly believe that it is nothing more than a complete waste of time, effort and resource and will actually not bring anybody any benefit whichever side of the line they want to put themselves. For the most part, all I can deduce from Brexit, is that it is nothing more than a pub bore ideology, of middle aged has been grifters.

However, that being said The Brexit has in my opinion completely F**cked the United Kingdom, and has actually brought about the poisoning of it, but it has also actually highlighted just how corrupt and rotten British politics has become.

In the UK we have had several scandals that involve huge breaches of privacy, such as Cambridge Analytica and its ever increasing web of corruption.

It is because of this, I started to think about privacy and the importance of maintaining privacy online. So over a period of time, I either closed or deleted a number of accounts.

I obviously started with Facebook, which I have to be honest I never really used and got fed up with years ago. There is only so much excitement you can muster up when you read about what your friends are having for dinner and which of Facebook life photographs they share!


Inside Cambridge Analytica's Plot to Break the World

whistleblower Christopher Wylie, the definitive story of the Brexit coup, the making of Bannon's America, and an ongoing crime against democracy

Why I removed Ads

Slowly becoming more aware of my own desire for privacy online, I started to feel more of a hypocrite, when I was still in a sense promoting intrusion of other peoples privacy by continuing to include adverts and by extension several tracking utilities on my websites.

Adverts, also didn't really offer visitors to my blog much value at all and if anything only really served as a distraction. Also after conducting several quality reviews of the ads posted on my website, which I did by visiting my website using my favourite VPN service , and browsing impersonating users from different locations etc. I concluded that the adverts never really offered users anything of relevance.

I used to make use of LuckyOrange to automatically create a recording of every visitor to my website and reviewing these videos I could see that ads really didn't have a positive affect on my users experience. Ultimately they were just noise and I could only assume my readers could live without them.

It would be rather unfair for me to be taking steps to improve my privacy online while at the same time enforcing privacy invasions on my users. I therefore decided I had to take steps and remove ads from my website.

Although I have to admit not 100%. I still have some form of ads, but to be honest that is only to enable comments on my posts, which seems as my traffic increases so does the likelihood of some people wanting to ask questions.

Browsing without ads

Fortunately there are some relatively easy steps you can take to attempt to reduce interruptions, distractions and data leakages. I'll provide 3 of my favourite solutions I implement.

I have posted before about how I made the switch to using Duck Duck Go and I have been using it for over a year now as my default search engine.

In a nutshell, Duck Duck Go does not record your search data, it doesn't track you and unlike  Google it does not make its money from advertising revenues therefore it has no incentive to store data about you.

I encourage you to take a look at Duck Duck Go and use it as an alternative search engine. The primary reason for this is that DuckDuckGo does not track you or record your search history.

I have also switched to using the Brave Browser , which blocks ads and trackers that follow you round, Brave is also free to use!

The real advantage to me as a Publisher on Brave is that people can make contributions directly to me, should they think my content is of value or assistance. Brave Rewards helps me earn more for doing what I do best and get back some of that revenue lost for when my viewers use ad blocking.

I can get paid directly by my audience for my content, instead of relying on ad revenue.

Browse the Web using a VPN

I have also switched to browsing the web using a VPN service, The two primary use VPN from my browsing are :

  1. A VPN cloaks and encrypts your signal, making your online activity completely illegible to any eavesdroppers
  2. A VPN manipulates your IP address, making you appear to come from a different machine/location/country.

I predominantly use Cyber Ghost VPN and have done now for over a year or so, I also have it installed on all my devices and won't surf the internet without it. Particularly if I'm connected to any public Wifi.

Gary Woodfine
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