How Reddit Monetizes Your Information and How to Secure Your Privacy

Computerscreen with shield en reddit logo

Reddit is a wide-open forum for discussing everything from the mundane to the macabre. With over 168 billion pages viewed on Reddit each year, it is the 8th most trafficked website in the world. While Reddit is free for users, the site does provide advertising on its site, included advertising targeted to you based on your activity on the site and online. Accessing Reddit’s privacy settings is simple and reviewing them only takes a few moments. So why not secure your information while surfing the forum?

Why You Should Be Concerned About Privacy on Reddit

Reddit is one of the largest and most trafficked websites in the world. This makes it a rich source of information for advertisers looking to narrow the targets for their ads. The wide-open nature of discussions on Reddit contribute to users’ willingness to share opinions more honestly than they might elsewhere. Moreover, the nature of the discussion boards can reveal interests not commonly expressed in other forums. In other words, advertisers are looking at Reddit and learning things about you they can’t learn anywhere else. If this concerns you, taking some time to enhance your privacy may be in order.

Privacy Options on Reddit

You may not have had much reason to visit Reddit’s settings and preferences. While personalization options are somewhat limited on the platform, there are some steps you can take to improve your privacy online. From your Reddit home, look for the “Preferences” link just above the search bar online. You can also click on your profile icon and select “User Settings”. Click on the tab marked “Privacy and Security” to access the privacy options. Below you will be able to see what settings might be interesting to change.

Data Personalization on Reddit

Reddit logoReddit helps advertisers target users based on information built up in a personal profile. This profile uses your activity on Reddit, subscriptions, visits to different subreddits, and what you click on using the platform. A third-party site that integrates with Reddit also may give Reddit information to build your profile.

Clicking on “Data Personalization” offers you a screen with some options to modify this behavior. Keep in mind, these settings only apply to your use of Reddit while logged in. Using Reddit without logging in will reset these settings to their default each time.

The first option is to withdraw permission for Reddit to use your activity on the site to show more relevant ads. This withdraws Reddit’s permission to use your activity, subreddit visits, and links you click on to target ads. You will still receive ads, but advertisers will not receive your information.

There is also the option of withdrawing permission for Reddit to use information from third-party websites to provide better ad targeting. You can disallow this entirely, disallow ad personalization using this data, or disallow personalization of content using the data.

Authorized Applications

Both Reddit’s app and other third-party apps can integrate with Reddit to modify your user experience on the site. Maybe you have given permission to an app to monitor and post on Reddit on your behalf in the past. You might revoke that access. In the settings, click on “Authorized applications”, locate the application you wish to unauthorize, and click “revoke access” near the bottom left of that section.

Search Engine Indexing

By default, Reddit allows search engines to index your profile. This means that a Google search can turn up Reddits you have commented on in the past, subreddits you are active in, and more. Advertisers, ex-partners, your employer, and anyone else could find your activity in Reddit with a simple online search if this is turn on. Click the slider next to “Search Engine Indexing” to turn this option off. This way, your activity on Reddit won’t be indexed in search engines.

Log Outbound Clicks

By default, Reddit records the links you click on in Reddit that take you to another site. This information is extremely valuable for advertisers to build a better profile of your interests. Advertisers, hackers, or anyone snooping on your online activity can use this information to track you across websites by your IP address. Click the slider next to “Log Outbound Clicks” to turn this off.

Incoming Messages

It can be nice that people want to contact you, unless it turns out to be a crazy stalker, or an advertising bot spamming you with sales offers. Scroll down to “Messaging Privacy” and click the arrow out beside “Who Can Message You”. You have the option to either allow everyone to message you or add users who can message you. If you are fine with everyone messaging you except a small list of people, you can also blacklist those users. This way they can no longer message you on Reddit.

Further Protecting Your Privacy on Reddit and Beyond

You might think simply using Reddit while logged out could protect your privacy and keep advertisers from learning much about your interests and activity. Even while logged out, however, you leave a trail behind. Advertisers and anyone else with just a moderate talent or access to talent for tracking online can easily build a portfolio of your activity both on Reddit and across the internet.

VPN connectionBy using a VPN service, you put a secure middleman between you and the rest of the online world. Data to and from the VPN is encrypted, ensuring your connection cannot be snooped on. By using the VPN servers you anonymizes your data. These servers can be anywhere in the world. If you are concerned about your privacy, a VPN is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself online. To find the perfect VPN provider for your online needs you can read our article with a top 5 of the best services.

In this day and age it is important to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes. Changing the privacy settings in all your account can be a good start.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. Since 2019 she is's cybersecurity news coordinator.
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  1. Great write-up, very informative, Thank you for being there for us.

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