Online Privacy – 2 Months In

I Wanted My Online Privacy Back And Got It

Online privacy photograph of laptop on desk with lines of code displayed on the screen
Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

Taking Back Control

I questioned my social media and privacy habits over the past year or so. The conclusions made were that social media was taking up to much of my time. Deep down I am aware that it creates anxiety in me too; it’s clear to me that it’s engineered to do so. The various scandals around the misuse of personal data I find troubling too. Online privacy became a source of concern to me.

I dumped LinkedIn, tired of being constantly pitched, several times daily. Over the years I noticed that this platform had lost its quiet etiquette. It’s now a more mainstream social media environment of inflammatory comments. In January the full delete social media plan went into action. Facebook went. Then Twitter. Then Instagram.

I closed my personal Google account too. In all cases, I was sure to copy my personal data and ensure the platform deleted my account. I host my personal email on the encrypted Protonmail service and I connect via the Proton VPN. This website is hosted in Iceland by a privacy-first company.

I stripped my Apple devices of any apps that track my location and data, as far as possible. Location services are off for all apps.

I took control of my online privacy and it felt good.

Further Online Privacy

An interesting new discovery was how much tracking goes on through web browsers. I took all the reasonable privacy-related steps in the Safari browser. Out of interest, I installed the Ghostery extension. It’s designed to block tracking software of all kinds. On loading it for the first time, I was shocked to see 1,219 pieces of tracking software existed on my browser. Ghostery is on permanently and I use Cliqz anonymous browser from the parent company when I can.

The Siren Call

Two weeks ago, I wobbled and opened @frithstreetpost on Twitter. I don’t see a lot of traffic here, although Medium gives me some exposure. Having a Twitter account made sense to get some eyes onto my blog. The effect this simple act had on me was powerful. I started looking at the feed and over 3-4 days that accelerated. The same dopamine effect immediately reestablished itself. A feeling of tension and anxiety settled over me too. That struck me, the power of it. Twitter got canned on day five and the tension was gone.

I get sent business-related article links for LinkedIn, but with no account, I can’t see them. In a moment of business FOMO I opened a LinkedIn account so I could read the shared articles. 24 hours later I deleted it. Same problems, different year. Getting too many connection requests from salespeople. Plus not liking my new digital privacy environment being breached.

Online Privacy Is Important

That’s my conclusion. Online privacy is important to me. It’s a healthy step too. More time for quality thinking, more time to read and to listen to audio books. To notice the environment around me. Sometimes even having time to talk to other people – what next? I’m very conscious that I feel more relaxed without the faint buzz of digital white noise.

Of course, I know I’m not operating in full privacy; but I have made my own choices. That’s a very important part of the exercise. I have made decisions about who I want and don’t want to access my online life. Not perfect, but a huge change from the previous situation. Hundreds of spam emails; scores of banner advertisements; and hundreds of pieces of software tracking me.

Two months into this new way of being on online, the change is positive and it feels permanent.

Also published on Medium.

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