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How do they know what I looked at online?

Published onJan 14, 2020
How do they know what I looked at online?

Worried because someone in your personal life knows more about what you’ve been looking at online than you want them to? There’s a step you should take right now to protect your privacy.

Copy the link to this page (it’s up at the top of this browser window, and starts, then open a private or incognito browsing window. Paste the link into the private or incognito window at the top of the browser, and keep browsing from there.

Private browsing is called different things in different browsers. Here’s how to find it in Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari on a Mac or iPhone, and Opera.

For everything you want to view privately, keep using new windows in private or incognito mode.

One more step: clear your browser history. Here’s how to do that in the most common browsers.

Stay in private browsing all the time

If you don’t want to have to remember to open a private or incognito window every time you surf the web, here are a couple of web browsers you should use instead of Chrome, Edge, Safari, or your other usual browser:

Firefox Focus automatically erases all traces of what you’ve looked at. Here’s where to find it for Android or iPhone.

DuckDuckGo’s browser makes it fast and easy to erase your browsing history with their “fire” button. Here’s where to find it for iPhone and Android. Just don’t forget to click that button!

How private windows are NOT going to protect you

  • Private and incognito browsing will not stop people from seeing what you post on social media, or in other public places.

  • It will not protect you if you work at a job that monitors your internet traffic, and the person you want to hide from is your boss, company IT staff, law enforcement, or other higher-ups at your company. See those links for stronger protection in those cases.

See this article for more tips on private browsing, or pick up a copy of Keep Calm and Log On for even more security and privacy advice.

If you need to get out of an abusive relationship or family situation

Tracking a partner or family member’s web use is often a part of an abusive pattern.

If you need help getting out of an abusive situation, open a private/incognito window and have a look at:

RAINN’s resources for survivors of rape, abuse, and incest

Hotlines from the US Government Office of Women’s Health

Chayn’s resources for survivors in the UK, India, Pakistan, and Italy

DayOne’s resources for younger people suffering abuse in the New York City area

JOFA’s and Yad L’isha’s resources for Orthodox Jewish women seeking to get out of abusive marriages

A state-by-state list of resources for LGBTQI young people, from the Ali Forney Center

BJUnity’s resources and TransFaith for queer folks seeking to reconcile their religion with their identity

Keep Calm and Log On has more resources for staying safe in relationships on this page.

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