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How do ads follow me around online?

How do ads follow me around online?
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Q. Kim, help! I've heard you talk about how sites track you, but I don't know how to stop it. What settings do I need to change?
-Alex from Los Angeles, CA, listens to The Kim Komando Show on 790 AM KABC

A. The amount of data companies can collect these days will shock you. It even has its own name: Big Data. That's just a simplified way to say that companies are collecting more information than they know what to do with.

Has this ever happened to you? You're shopping online, maybe browsing for a new pair of shoes. You find the perfect pair, but maybe you're not quite ready to buy. Then, when you close the window and move on to the next site that very pair of shoes mysteriously shows up in an ad.

Behavioral tracking is a little bit creepy. But luckily, you can change some settings to stop the biggest culprits.

1. Web browsers

Everything you do online begins with a web browser. Whether you're reading up on current events or browsing YouTube to watch cat videos, your browser is storing data about the search terms you use and pages you visit.

Here's how you can stop it on the top three browsers:

  • Microsoft Edge: Open your advanced settings and turn on “Send Do Not Track requests.”
  • Google Chrome: Choose “Privacy” in your advanced settings menu and check the box next to “Do Not Track.”
  • Mozilla Firefox: Open “Preferences” and then select “Privacy.” Then click “manage your Do Not Track Settings” and turn on “Use Do Not Track.”

Watch this video demonstration:

Next page: A deeper look at Google tracking
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