Spreading the News? Avoid Paying the Dues.

Concerned about spam and unwanted ads as a result of web browsing and email? Here's what to do.

learn more about Edith G. Tolchin

By Edith G. Tolchin • Sep 9, 2014 Originally published Sep 9, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever notice how once you google something or email someone about anything, a stream of ads related to similar subjects pops up almost immediately? Doesn't it seem like a ghost is just sitting there on your handheld device?

For a boomer like me, it reminds me of my high school English class when I read George Orwell and thought, "No way!"

Every time I open Facebook on my iPhone 5C, the apps suggested for me to download relate to the same sites I just looked at moments earlier.

Related: Facebook Gives Advertisers a Way to Target by Relationship Status

And the Facebook prompts suggesting people whom I might know? Some of these friend referrals are for people I don't like, havn't spoken with for 30 years for a reason or distant relatives with whom I have nothing in common. If Mark Zuckerberg is such a genius, doesn't he know that nowadays people are very easy to locate?

Those Facebook ads offering free shipping and returns and a 20 percent discount? Seriously, how many people at my age can really buy shoes without trying them on? As a 50-plus woman with a lifelong shoe fetish, I've ordered plenty of shoes online. Having returned about seven pairs of shoes in the past two or three years, I have finally realized I cannot purchase shoes online.

This is caused by Facebook's ad retargeting achieved through the cookies data stored when the user browses other sites. The solution to this? Think before googling: When browsing another web site (not Facebook) use Google Chrome's incognito mode or Safari's or Firefox's private browsing.

Related: Cybersecurity Basics: Surf the Web Safely With These Browsers

Spam in the email box is something most people are hard pressed to control. It comes from all over the world. Strengthen the spam filter in your email program or just delete the emails.

But what about those darn ads that crop up online when using a web browser associated with an email service such as Google's Chrome browser is with Gmail?

For example, as a China product safety and sourcing specialist, I often google websites for info on a new Chinese supplier. The next thing I know, I'm bombarded with offers for products such as recycled tires, head lamps and other items I would never have the need to import -- all courtesy of Big Brother.

Enough already with those ads for strapless, pure white wedding gowns! Yes, I'm getting married in November. And no, it's not the first time so I'm planning to wear red and three-quarter length sleeves. And no, I do not need a minister and definitely not a limo.

And I'm through with those ads showing hemorrhoid cream or the latest way to lose belly fat. Hey, I can watch TV for those.

The solution? Try creating an entirely different email account to use when web searching and visiting shopping sites. Use a different email address for sending emails to shopping sites or to respond to product ads.

Is this a bit confusing?

Maybe, but don't give up: Deleting all email accounts altogether will unfortunately land you back in the Stone Age. And worse you'll be the brunt of jokes from your kids at future family gatherings.

I'd be thrilled to hear from social media experts who might offer their proposed solutions to stop the madness!

Related: Facebook Exchange Ads Could Raise Even More Privacy Concerns

Edith G. Tolchin

Owner of EGT Global Trading, Editor, Author

Edith G. Tolchin is owner of EGT Global Trading. She is a contributing editor for Inventors Digest, a former business columnist for the Times Herald-Record in New York and a book author of three books, including Secrets of Successful Inventing: From Concept to Commerce.  

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