How to Know if You’re Being Tracked on the Internet

Posted on Jan 2, 2019 by Summer Hirst

You just spoke to your family about how you need a new juicer. When you go online, you see ads for juicers everywhere. And you didn’t even search for a juicer online! Somehow, your conversations are being tracked to show you relevant ads.

This is disturbing. You talk about a lot of things and you don’t want the internet to keep monitoring you all the time.

Who is tracking you?
Nearly every free service that you use. This includes search engines, social media websites and email services. Since you’re not paying for the benefits you’re getting, these companies get their revenues from your data.

Most companies will say that they don’t sell your data to third parties but then you see very specific ads everywhere, which means someone is definitely lying.

What information are they collecting?
Anything that you might want to buy. If you have discussed a particular hotel chain, it will start showing up in your Facebook newsfeed. Or the latest gadget you searched online.

If you mention a particular product in your emails, it can show up in ads as well. Basically, it’s all about giving you targeted ads. And as long as it’s about just the ads, it’s pretty harmless. Things get serious when someone actually spies on you.

How to stop my device from listening to my conversations
Visit the app permission section on your phone and revoke mic permissions. This way, your phone won’t be able to listen to your conversations. However, your searches will still be tracked. To avoid being monitored by Google, you can use alternative search engines such as Duck Duck Go.

How to know if someone is spying on you?
There might be spyware on your device. This is scarier than being tracked for advertising purposes. With spyware, someone can read all your texts and keep a track of all your browsing activities.

Is your device behaving oddly these days? The data consumption has increased although your online activities have remained the same?

Or the battery drains out too quickly? Phone restarts without any reason? A lot of background noise when you make a call? Strange text messages?

All these are signs that someone might be spying on your device.

What to do if someone is spying
If you think someone is spying on you, the first thing to do is update your operating system. Phone manufacturers keep patching old flaws in new updates. So it’s best to install the new updates as soon as they arrive.

Once you’ve updated the software, install a good anti-spyware app on your device. You might already have virus protection but you’ll need a specialized tool to find, remove and prevent spyware.

If you still face the same problems, you should take a backup of all important files and reset your device. A factory reset will completely wipe your phone and remove all software on it, including the spyware. Just be sure to scan the files in the backup for virus or spyware BEFORE restoring them on the device.