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The price of free: how Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google sell you to advertisers

Mark Hachman | Oct. 2, 2015
Here's what popular services like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft collect -- and what you can do about it.

And that’s just some if it.

What can I do about it? For a comprehensive primer, please refer to Ian Paul’s guide to reclaiming your privacy in Windows 10, piece by piece, as well as Lincoln Spector’s tip about turning off the Windows keylogger.


Hey, fair’s fair, right? We can’t really criticize other sites’ privacy policies without publishing our own as well. Note that PCWorld uses cookies to help identify you—and if you’ve logged in, you’ll receive a more optimized experience. But if you don’t log in, that’s fine too.

And yes, you can use an ad blocker or an anonymizer service with no penalty and still receive our news and features. Other sites allow limited access with anonymization turned on—you can still see public Facebook pages, for example, but there’s no way you’ll see anyone’s Gmail page without the proper login and password.

Yes, your privacy is for sale

One of Robert A. Heinlein’s most famous contributions to popular culture was an acronym: TANSTAAFL—There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. That certainly goes for today’s online services. Bing, Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and the like—they may not cost you a dime, but they’re not free. The only sure way to avoid paying is to surf anonymously, never buy a smartphone, and never take advantage of a free Web service that you have to log into. Barring that, v


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