eMarketer found that about a quarter of all U.S. Internet users, nearly 70 million people, use technology to block online ads, either on their desktop or laptop computers or on their smartphones. I am one of those 70 million. I detest all the intrusive advertising and all the privacy-invading tracking of my online activities.
Sophisticated advertising technology has led to the creepy feeling you get when, for example, an item you were shopping for online suddenly shows up in your Facebook feed. Coincidence? Certainly not. The ad companies are tracking me and my online activities. They are tracking you as well. In effect, they are stalking all of us. That’s why millions of people use ad blockers: to stop the online tracking of our activities.
Some web sites have started a war against ad blockers. If you have an ad blocker installed in your web browser and you visit certain web sites, you will see a message that says something similar to this from Wired.com:
“Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on. So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Either way, you are supporting our journalism. We’d really appreciate it.”
I appreciate the fact that the web site’s owners need to pay the bills. However, my personal privacy and freedom from online stalkers is more important to me than is their need to generate revenue. I don’t want them to pay their bills by tracking my web habits and invading my privacy. I believe the advertisers simply have selected the wrong business models to advertise their wares. Luckily, there is a simple work-around that works for me.
I normally use AdBlock for the Chrome web browser on a Macintosh or a Chromebook computer. It should work the same on Windows. I haven’t tested this method on a wide variety of web browsers and operating systems. Instead, I’ll simply mention it here and let you test it on your computer(s).
The secret is to use your web browser’s Incognito Mode. In some web browsers it is called “Private Window” or “Private Browsing.” Same thing. It may be called something else in your web browser. Most modern web browsers offer such a privacy feature.
Incognito mode is a feature you can enable in any web browser to prevent others who use the same computer from being able to view your web history, downloads, autofill, and dialog box information. Not only does it block other users of your computer from seeing what your history, it also blocks web sites from seeing that information as well.
Incognito mode can be used if you want your browsing activities to be kept secret, or if you use a public computer and are concerned about safety and privacy. Incognito mode or private browsing only prevents the browser from storing browsing information locally. It does not make you anonymous online or prevent your employer or Internet service provider from seeing your traffic.
One method of blocking the advertisers from intruding upon your privacy is to not allow the web site to see your web browser’s history, downloads, autofill, and dialog box information. You can block the web site’s intrusive snooping and tracking by using Incognito Mode.
When you encounter a web site that is blocking you because of your ad blocker:
1. Copy the URL displayed in the top of your web browser. To do this, move the mouse icon into the web address bar near the top of your browser and click once. In most web browsers, the address bar will change color to show that it has been selected.
2. Copy the address displayed. On Windows, Chromebook, or Linux, you do this by simultaneously pressing Control and C. That is the standard copy command in those operating systems. On a Macintosh, simultaneously press Command and C. That command copies the web address invisibly to your system’s scratch pad.
3. In the top-left (usually) corner of the browser window, select FILE. A pulldown menu appears.
4. Select NEW INCOGNITO WINDOW or NEW PRIVATE WINDOW or whatever terminology is used in your web browser. A new window will open with the Incognito icon.
5. Move the mouse icon back to the address bar near the top of the new Incognito window that appears and click once. Press DELETE to delete the address displayed there at the moment.
6. Paste in the address stored in your computer’s scratchpad: On Windows, Chromebook, or Linux, you do this by simultaneously pressing Control and V. On a Macintosh, simultaneously pressing Command and V.
7. Press ENTER and the same page you tried to display earlier will now appear. You will no longer be blocked from displaying the web page.
Of course, another method is to simply use Incognito Mode all the time as the normal default for your online activities. That will make your online activities even more private than ever.
This method works on my Macintosh and Chromebook computers using the Chrome web browser. Does it work on your system?