Clean your Digital Slate for 2018
Erin Thompson Erin Thompson

Your web browser keeps a recorded archive of all your search history, unless you tell it not to.

Here is a smart new years resolution to start 2018: de-clutter all your digital history and fingerprints. Your computer stores a giant amount of browsing and searching data and in places you may never think to look. This thorough pipeline makes you vulnerable to spies and advertising trackers. The solution is to eliminate it and wipe it clean.

Here are 3 methods to cover your digital tracks using 2 of the most popular services on the web. It may shock you how closely related these companies follow you and your activity, and even more surprising is how much control you have and may not know it.

1. Google search history - Erase it

The mission for Google is to know and store everything, this world famous search engine keeps close records of your browsing history which may seem harmless when you think about it, your computer remembers the websites you visit so its easier to load them later on, right, so whats the big deal?  Here is another way to look at it: The tech giant knows every single thing and keyword you’ve ever searched and if you have a Google account, the corporation archives it and not just on your computer, but in its own databases.  So, you can’t simply delete and erase your search history from your browser and hope that will work. Google still knows everything.

Google also tracks your physical location, the good news is that you can delete all your data by clearing the history from your personal computer thanks to a micro feature called ‘My Activity”.   Google has over a dozen basic features and this feature most times goes unnoticed.  If you click My Account in the upper right corner, you will find My Activity >> Delete Activity, a small box will appear that allows you to change the delete by date field to All Time. Google will take much effort to remind you how beneficial and important your search history is, but you now have the option to completely remove all this data once and for all.

2. Facebook search history - Erase it

Would you believe it to hear that Facebook stores the same kind of records at Google? If anything, Facebook’s data is even more personal, such as memories and pastimes, due to sharing these gems on the social network. Facebook also mines the data when you are searching for a person like a co worker or a neighbour. If someone finds a way to access your account, that information is fully available and public.

Fortunately, you can wipe away your Facebook search history in only a few clicks, to clear past searches, log into Facebook and click the upside down triangle in the top right corner. Click on Activity log, in the left column of the Activity Log under Photos, Likes and Comments, click on the More link. Then scroll down and click on the search link, here you will find a list of every Facebook search you’ve ever made organized by date. You can clear searches individually by clicking the crossed-circle icon on the right. Then click Remove in the box that appears, to clear every search, click on the Clear Searches link located at the top right of the list.

3. Use concealed search engines

It’s no secret that Google has millions of users around the world and the company name has become synonymous for searching information. Remember, you do not have to use Google and as convenient as it is there are alternative ways to navigate around the web.
Startpage.com and DuckDuckGo  are 2 popular references that have a mission to keep user information private and personalized for the search results. DuckDuckGo search engine includes smart calculators and other tools and can be customized to use search shortcuts and Instant Answers feature. You may be surprised by the quality of Instant Answers which easily competes with Googles Knowledge Graph. You can also make duck duck go an extension of your browser and activate more privacy settings to keep your search history under lock and key as much as possible.
Ixquick calls itself the world’s most private search site. The site does not actively record your IP address, browser information or ongoing search history. The real magic of Ixquick is its ‘search by proxy’ feature. This means that websites have no indication what IP address you’re coming from, so as a customer browsing the website pages, you are invisible.

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  • Erin Thompson