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20 ways to take control of your online data and privacy

26 June 2018

Cut through fear and misconceptions about technology with these 20 positive steps to take control of your online data, avoid fake news, and make your online life better.

Two older women use these tips to regain control of their online lives

Responding to growing concerns over loss of privacy, and the increasing polarisation of information, technology think tank Doteveryone’s Be A Better Internetter initiative cuts through fear and misconceptions about technology, offering positive steps to make our online lives better.

Recent research conducted by Doteveryone found that we’re unsure of many of the ways online technology works and affects us, including:

How adverts target us - 45% are unaware that the information we enter on websites and social media can help target ads

How personal information is collected - 83% are unaware that information other people have shared can be collected about us

How prices can vary - 47% haven’t seen prices change when we repeatedly search for an item or noticed friends or family seeing a different price for the same service

Where news comes from - 62% don’t realise our social networks can affect the news we see

How products and services make money - 24% don’t know how tech companies makes money

Rachel Coldicutt, CEO of Doteveryone, said: 'We know people want more control over their technology but right now they don't know how to get it - there's no-one standing on the public's side and showing them how to do it. Our digital public health campaign helps the public make tech work better for them. And as informed consumers we'll all be better able to push companies to build more responsible technology which benefits everyone in society.'

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Top tips to make your online life work for you

• Regularly clear your cache so private information isn’t stored and used to help target personalised advertising and pricing - and so it’s not accessible by future users or vulnerable to hacking

• Check prices on a different device or browser before making a big purchase online to make sure you’re getting the best price, and not one artificially inflated because tracking has shown you’re looking to buy

• Use tools like Terms of Service, Didn’t Read to help explain T&C’s, and flag the ones you find unacceptable

• Don’t look at private information on public wifi – they’re less secure and more susceptible to hacking than private networks

• Use fact checkers like and snopes.comto build up your ability to identify online misinformation

• Turn on two factor authentication (2FA) where you can for your online account

• Use a password manager (a digital vault for your passwords) to keep your online accounts secure; this will make it easier to use hard-to-guess passwords and have a different password for every account

• Install a tracking blocker or an adblocker if you don’t want to see adverts

• Switch to using a privacy preserving browser like @brave or search engine like to reduce gathering of your personal information online

• Use a virtual private network (VPN) to help keep your personal information safe and prevent some types of price discrimination

• Turn on chronological timelines in social media where possible, to prevent the algorhtm showing you what it thinks you want to see, rather than giving you a balanced representation of your friends' opinions

• Turn off notifications on your social media platforms about news you don’t need to see urgently

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• Regularly update your devices and apps and remove or turn off apps you don’t use

• Try keeping the home screen of your phone to tools only (the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar, Notes); move the rest, especially mindless choices, off the first page and into folders

• Charge your device outside the bedroom; get a separate alarm clock in your bedroom, and charge your phone in another room (or on the other side of the room, away from your bed)

• Only install applications from authorised app stores

• Set up an alternate social media account to follow people from the ‘opposite’ side of the debate or try out other sources of news and information to avoidfilter bubbles

• To avoid receiving targeted advertising or having your personal information collected, consider paying for services that support other business models

• Use your rights under GDPR and complain where your rights are breached

• Set your phone to grayscale to remove the positive reinforcements we get from colourful icons

Doteveryone’s quirky Be A Better Internetter campaign uses lighthearted, memorable slogans and illustrations (such as “Go incognito and be more discreeto”) to help people understand how tech products use our information when we shop, search and share, along with pointers to some simple steps to taking control online - from adjusting privacy settings to diversifying our social media feeds.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.