Healthy Connections

VNET & Erie News Now (Wednesdays at 12:30 PM)

  • Protect Your Internet Privacy

    Why should big tech companies make boatloads of money off your data, browsing habits, and search history? Why should those companies be able to sell it to other companies to do with what they want? You don’t have to be a part of it with just a little bit of effort. We’re going to cover some alternative apps, websites, and tools that will help you to take some power back from “Big Tech.”

    Illustration of a man and woman at a computer talking about internet privacy.

    “You need to protect your internet privacy.” he mansplained. “I wish he’d just blog this, and I could sit more comfortably at my computer,” she thought. “And where are our masks!”


    NordVPN (, ExpressVPN (
    With a virtual private network (VPN), you can overcome content restrictions and censorship from anywhere in the world. Enjoy secure, anonymous browsing as the VPN will hide your IP address and encrypts your data. If you want to protect your privacy online, a good VPN is the best place to start.

    Web Browsers

    If you’re using Microsoft Edge, or Google Chrome, you’re likely allowing Microsoft and Google to track a great deal of your user data. While both browsers do many things really well, both browsers come by companies who are invested in search engines that make bank off your data. It makes a lot of sense why they want you to use their browser, right?

    Luckily, there are some great browser alternatives that offer better privacy and security.
    Mozilla Firefox is a popular choice that is fully baked with a plethora of security features.

    Brave (
    Brave is touted as one of the fastest performing browsers available and features ad blocking, and secures unencrypted sites with HTTPS when needed. Unlike Mozilla Firefox, Brave is Chromium-based, which means you should be able to add your favorite Chrome extensions. That said, third-party plugins can collect your data, so do your due diligence.

    Tor (
    If you’re looking to fly under the radar, this is your browser. It’s based on the Firefox codebase but distinguishes itself from the pack by encrypting your data and routing your traffic over a free, worldwide, volunteer network. This overlay network consists of 1000s of volunteer computers that conceal your location and usage. One thing to note is that Tor is not invisible to ISPs and law enforcement, but the data is. If invisibility is what you’re looking for, use Tor with a VPN.


    Are you longing for a search engine that doesn’t construct a profile of your life based on your searches? How about one that isn’t pushing an agenda. That sounds like something everyone should have.

    Duck Duck Go (
    From the mouths of ducks, “We don’t store your personal info. We don’t follow you around with ads. We don’t track you. Ever.” While Duck Duck Go still features ads, it bases the ads on the words you are searching for. With Google, you’ll find ads following you everywhere you browse. Duck Duck Go’s business model may not make them one of largest companies in the world, but it’s still legit and honorable.

    Texting App

    Signal (
    Available on Android and iOS, Signal’s focus is on privacy, yet its feature set is on par with Messages, Facebook Messenger, and others. Enjoy end-to-end encryption that will keep your conversations secure. Jack Dorsey of Twitter seems to be a big fan, and unsurprisingly, Edward Snowden also endorses it. See, everyone would like to communicate without being snooped on.

    WhatsApp (
    WhatsApp has been around for quite some time and offers clients for Mac and PC in addition to Android and iOS. You might choose this one because it isn’t endorsed by Jack Dorsey and Edward Snowden. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Facebook Alternative

    Wow, this is a tough one.
    MeWe (
    They stress four points that I’ll summarize here: 1. Trust that you are treated as a customer, not data to be sold 2. Control over your newsfeeds 3. Safety for all walks of life 4. Positive vibes. Sounds great, but are your family and friends there? Give it a shot and convince some people to join you. It might be the next big thing.

    Twitter Alternative

    Parler would easily be listed here but is no longer available. If we see any developments in this space, we will be sure to update this article.

    Hopefully we’ve provided you with some good food for thought about protecting your online privacy. If you have questions about anything in this article or in the Healthy Connections segment on ErieNewNow, please email us at

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