Here’s How You Can Stop Google & Facebook From ‘Spying’ On You

Facebook and Google have been criticised for of misusing personal data of users for the purpose of targeting ads.

Published
Tech News
3 min read

Google and Facebook. Two of the biggest names of the tech world. Both have played a pivotal role in shaping the Internet we see today but that utopian cyberspace is falling apart as it is now showing us its ugly side – the more manipulative side of these companies.

Ironic, right?

There have been numerous reports in the past that have criticised these companies of spying on and tracking its users. Technically, these platforms do track your activities – the ones that we know about, and you, as a user, allow to happen.

But there is a way by which you can stop Google and Facebook from tracking you. The compromise is that your Internet and Facebook browsing experience will be different.

So, want Google and Facebook to stop snooping around your personal lives? Here’s how you do it.

Disable Location Tracking

When you create a Facebook or a Google account many users inadvertently activate the location tracking option of the app.

To ensure that neither of these platforms can track where you are, go to the apps’ Settings > Account Settings > Location and turn off location tracking.

You also need to make sure that you check other apps as they may be serving you ads via Facebook.

It’s best that you don’t grant location access to apps that don’t need your location.

You can do so by going to your phone’s ‘Settings’ and clicking on ‘Privacy’. Under ‘Privacy’, you’ll see the list of apps that use your location data. You can manually disable location access to apps that don’t require it.

To stop Google from tracking, you can go to your web URL and type myactivity.google.com. You need to be logged in to your Google account. You’ll see 'Activity Controls' where you need to toggle off 'Web & App Activity' and 'Location History' to stop Google from storing your precise locations on your account.

Note that turning these services off will make Google serving you with ‘better’ ads and services more difficult.

Disable Microphone Access

Have you ever thought that Google or Facebook might be listening to you? Many people believe that these companies are spying on us using the phone’s mic.

When questioned about this in the United States Congress, Mark Zuckerberg denied any such allegation. Since you can’t really trust anyone these days, it’s best if you take matters into your own hands.

Go to your phone’s Settings > Privacy > Permissions Manager, and then select the ‘Microphone’. You then need to disable microphone access for all the apps that don’t need it, especially Google apps like Google Home, Maps, Chrome and Facebook apps like Instagram and Messenger.

By doing this, you won’t be able to use services like Google Assistant or voice notes on Instagram or Messenger, but at least, you’ll ensure that these platforms and apps are not listening to you.

Opt Out of Personalised Ads

Both Google and Facebook build an advertising profile of you, where they target ads based on your preferences.

They do this by tracking your web activity and show you the most relevant ads. Though they say it’s for your own good, your privacy is being compromised.

You can disable the Personalised Ads option on Google by going to https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated and disabling the Ad personalisation option.

It would be easier if you do it via your browser.

Secondly, Facebook doesn’t only track your Facebook activity but also tracks when you visit third-party websites.

The ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ tool lets users review and delete all the data.

So, if you're worried about Facebook having that kind of data on them you can delete and even download that data by going to ‘Settings & Privacy’, and then clicking on ‘Settings’.

Click on ‘Your Facebook Information’ and then go to ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ to review it.

Also, you can stop Facebook’s targeted ads feature by going to ‘Settings > Ads > Ad Settings’. Then head to ‘Setting & Privacy’ where you’ll find the option ‘Ad Preferences’ and ‘Ad Settings’.

You then need to choose the ‘Not Allowed’ options under each category to stop Facebook using data from partners and tracking your activity on it.

I just want to be clear that following all the above steps will ensure that Facebook and Google get less of your personal data like location, online activity, and preferences, but it will also affect your browsing experience which won’t be as seamless as it is right now.

If you think it’s a small price to pay for your privacy, then it’s time to put a stop to Google & Facebook's peeping around.

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