This guide is made for people who know why internet privacy is important, but can’t get themselves to commit to it. These people know that the best way to be anonymous on the internet is to connect through a VPN and Tor, to avoid making any social media accounts ever, for any reason, and to never visit a website that even dares to use Google Analytics. But they also know this isn’t realistic.
You’ll have to make a few compromises, but not as many as you may think. There’s a few big changes you can make, and tons of little habit changes that’ll make sure you stay anonymous. You don’t have to do all of them, but I’d recommend doing the majority.
Commit to these two at the very least.
Do not use Chrome. Simply do not. Using a browser made by an advertising company is such a huge, huge conflict of interest. You can disable all of the tracking things all you’d like, but at the end of the day, Chrome is free for a reason, and it’s certainly not because of user donations.
If you need bookmark and password syncing across devices like me, use Firefox, but use a hardening guide like this one. Firefox is not good for privacy out of the box anymore. If you don't need bookmark syncing, there's a variety of browsers you can use, like Ungoogled Chromium or LibreWolf. Do some research on your own too - there's some more options here.
What about Brave? It’s even FOSS!
I keep on seeing this browser recommended, but Brave has major issues. Read this.
Things you should do a bit differently that don’t require too much effort.
Does that online store really need an account, or is it still usable as a guest? Are you even going to use this account for a new service for more than two months? Probably not. All the accounts you make can be found later, and might be used to stalk you, figure out your interests in excruciating detail, and lots more.
It’s better to not use social media altogether, but it’s not always possible. Try to use them in your browser, since it’ll break most of their tracking and remove their ads while still giving you near full use of their services.
A simple Google search of an alias you use everywhere will bring up loads of accounts of yours. You’re setting yourself up to be stalked. Don’t do that.
If you absolutely have to sign up for an account, do it with a burner email that’s not used for more important things. Emails let advertisers piece together who someone is across services.
Google makes loads of money from your searches - they’re very revealing. Use DuckDuckGo for the majority of your searches. Go to Google for the few searches that DuckDuckGo messes up. (Also, DuckDuckGo has a dark theme!)
Seems unrelated, but let me explain - lots of brick and mortar stores will ask for your phone number or email. They don’t need them. Say no and move on. If they do receieve your information, they may sell it to advertisers to learn about your favorite stores, exact purchases, common locations, and more.
These two are hard to do or break lots of websites, but they work really well. Not recommended for most people.
I talk about this more here, but Windows itself tries to spy on you. It’ll send tons of details about what you do to Microsoft and will occasionally try to advertise to you. Linux just does what it’s supposed to do as an OS.
This is a big change to make. It’s not realistic for most people, but if you were already interested in Linux before this, look into it.