Dec 23 2018 – Kevin Yaworski – Volunteer Public Advocate
Even if you have set privacy settings in your account and apps from Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft etc… to disable ad tracking and limit data collection and other tracking you may find clicking on a sponsored ad link in an app to get more info about a product or service whether you buy it or not results in the same ad showing up more frequently and other ads like it.
Similar may happen with clicking on none sponsored links affecting what shows up in your news feed.
If you do not like this there is a few options for you that have varying degrees of effectiveness.
1a. Set your social media app to open links in external browser (good idea anyways but may have limited effect if clicking link in Facebook or … see option 2).
1b. Install a second web browser with all cookies disabled and open that by default or if prompted with option.
2. Open your web browser with cookies and tracking disabled and go to the website you saw in the post or link and search for what you saw or do a web search but beware the later may result in more tracking via other means than cookies.
If you like or need some of the personalized benefits that cookies from trusted sites provides leave the default option in Android to prompt which browser to open a URL link in and have a second browser installed with cookies enabled. E.g. Chrome with cookies disabled and Firefox with enabled but not for 3rd parties. Go to Chrome for ad sponsored or all links that dont require cookies and Firefox for those that do.
Sometimes having cookies disabled will allow accessing content that is normally only available for subscribers including some news sites. Some track how many times you viewed their news and the prompt you to subscribe to continue reading or viewing.
If you use a site a lot and benefit from it then this should not be used to avoid subscription. If everyone did this they would go out of business or change their site to be more restrictive even for first time viewers.
Note you “maybe” able to use incognito mode for some sites that require cookies but they will be temporarily stored but some require normal mode. You can always clear cookies or history after you finished using the site. E.g. some browsers allow deleting past hour, day, week or all.
Also some sites have pop up or frame that says “cookies used for … do you accept” or “by continuing you accept …”. Some of these will still work with cookies disabled but some won’t.
If you already set your default browser to open you should be able to reset this option so it prompts each time. Search for this on the web.
For those of you with Apple IOS you maybe out of luck as Apple tends to make these decisions for you. Maybe there is a way or app to allow changing this.
For more on this and related search for Privacy on my blog.