Interesting article. What are your thoughts?

BTW, is Firefox accessible on the Mac?

Hope you enjoy,

Seven Simple Steps Toward Online Privacy
Robert EpsteinMar 16, 2017
I haven’t received a targeted ad on my computer or mobile phone for more than 
two years now. If you care about your privacy — or even if you’re just sick of 
being bombarded by ads for diet pills seconds after you send an email to a 
friend complaining that your pants are too tight — here are seven simple steps 
you can take to make your online presence more private:

1) Junk Gmail. All Gmail emails, both incoming and outgoing — even the angry 
draft emails you decided not to send — are analyzed and stored permanently by 
Google, Inc., with every snippet of information the company can extract from 
your emails added to the massive profile it has compiled about you. I recommend 
using instead of Gmail. It’s based in Switzerland and 
subject to strict Swiss privacy laws. It takes only a few seconds to sign up, 
because the company doesn’t ask anything about you (imagine that!). The basic 
service is free, and the paid version is cheap. ProtonMail is incredibly easy 
to use, and it also uses end-to-end encryption for maximum privacy. 
Unfortunately, you might be using Gmail and not even know it. To save money, 
thousands of businesses and universities use Gmail under their own brands — 
even news services such as The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Salon, and 
The Hill. To find out whether you have been unknowingly corresponding with 
someone through Google servers, open that person’s email and then find and 
click on the “view full header” option in your email software. If you find 
“” anywhere in the expanded header, Google has been monitoring all of 
your communications with that sender. Even if you switch to ProtonMail, you 
will still have no privacy when corresponding with someone using Gmail or 
hidden Google servers. I tell such people that if they want to communicate with 
me, they will need to use a different email service, and they usually do.

2) Switch Search Engines. Google’s search engine is the best because it indexes 
far more web pages than anyone else — at least 45 billion. But Google (the 
search engine) is also the most aggressive spying tool ever invented — funded 
from the outset by the NSA and the CIA to identify people who are a threat to 
national security. Google records every search you conduct, and your Google 
profile contains a complete history of every search you ever conducted — even 
those sketchy ones! Worse still, my research has shown in recent years that 
Google’s search engine is also the most powerful mind control device ever 
devised; it shifts the opinions of millions of people around the world every 
day without them knowing it. Instead of using, use If you use the Firebox browser, you can even make 
StartPage your default search engine. Why StartPage? Because it doesn’t track 
you, and because it gives you full access to Google’s amazing index. In other 
words, it gives you great search results while also preserving your privacy. 
StartPage also doesn’t give you any search suggestions, which Google uses 
systematically to direct your searches as they please.

3) Kill Chrome. Google developed the Chrome browser because the massive amount 
of information they were collecting about you from their search engine wasn’t 
enough for them. With Chrome, they can see which web pages you visit — and what 
you do on those pages — even if you go to those pages directly rather than 
going through their search engine. If you value your privacy, never use Chrome, 
even in the bogus “incognito” mode. Instead, use, which is 
maintained by a nonprofit organization. As I reveal in “The New Censorship,” 
Google can still get information about you when you’re using Firefox or Safari, 
but nowhere near as much as they get when you’re using Chrome.

4) Axe Android. As I explain in “Google’s Gotcha,” even Chrome didn’t give 
Google enough information about you, so the company developed Android, an 
operating system for phones and other mobile devices — the equivalent of the 
Windows operating system that’s on most desktop computers. Chrome gives Google 
information about you only when you’re online, but because Android controls all 
your phone’s functions, it can track you — the phone numbers you dial or the 
music files you access , for example—even when you’re offline. If you value 
your privacy, donate your Android phone to a charity (such as, and buy a phone from a company that doesn’t 
use Google’s deceptive business model. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and 
Blackberry make most of their money by selling products, whereas Google makes 
almost all of its money by suckering you with free services it uses to track 
you and then charging businesses a fee to send you targeted ads. If that 
doesn’t creep you out, maybe it should.

5) Heave Home. If Google has mind-fucked you into installing their new “Home” 
devices all over your apartment or house — and, yes, the company is currently 
urging people to install one in every room — send those cute little cylinders 
straight to hell. The Home device records everything you and your children say, 
and even when you think it’s inactive, it is still sending a signal back to 

6) Clear Cache and Cookies. Companies and hackers of all sorts are constantly 
installing invasive computer code on your computers and mobile devices, mainly 
to keep an eye on you but sometimes for more nefarious purposes. On a mobile 
device, you can clear out most of this garbage by going to the settings menu of 
your browser, selecting the “privacy and security” option and then clicking on 
the icon that clears your cache and cookies. With most laptop and desktop 
browsers, holding down three keys simultaneously — CTRL, SHIFT and DEL — takes 
you directly to the relevant menu; I use this technique multiple times a day 
without even thinking about it.

7) Pick a Proxy or VPN. For even more privacy, sign up for either a proxy or a 
VPN — a service that creates a buffer between you and the internet, fooling 
many of the tracking routines into thinking you’re not really you. VPNs provide 
more protection than proxies. My favorite VPN at the moment is For under $40 a year, you can install the PIA 
app on up to five devices. It’s lightning fast, and you don’t need to be a 
computer geek to install or use it.

Before or after taking one or more of these steps, you can check to see how 
secure your computer or mobile device is by running tests at websites such as or

In Dave Egger’s 2013 book, The Circle — due out in April 2017 as a movie 
starring Emma Watson — the only way one of the main characters can find to “go 
off-grid” is to kill himself by driving his vehicle off a bridge. If you follow 
the seven guidelines I’ve outlined above, you won’t need to resort to such 
extremes to regain some privacy in your life — at least for the time being.


Robert Epstein (@DrREpstein) is Senior Research Psychologist at the American 
Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California and the 
former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine. He is the author of 15 
books and more than 250 scholarly and popular articles on creativity, 
artificial intelligence, internet manipulation and other topics. He is the 
co-discoverer of the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) and, more 
recently, the discoverer of the Search Suggestion Effect (SSE).

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