While Reddit is free to use for all of its 430 million users, it needs to make money somehow. That’s why they collect data about their users. Through its ToS (Terms of Service), Reddit gets your permission to collect data about what you do on the site. They also collect data about what you do outside of their site with the help of cookies.
All of this data is then used to show you targeted advertisements, which is how Reddit can stay afloat and make a profit.
But you can protect yourself against this by:
- Changing your Reddit privacy settings, so you share less data with Reddit.
- Installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide your IP while browsing, making your web activities anonymous. Both Reddit users and our expert team agree that ExpressVPN is the best option:
Reddit is a wide-open forum for discussing everything from the mundane to the macabre. With over 430 million active users on Reddit, it was the seventh most visited website in the world in 2020.
What Reddit Knows About You
Reddit is one of the largest and most visited 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. The question is: what does Reddit store about you?
- Email address and password: When you sign-up on Reddit, you’re sharing your email address and a password.
- Name: If you don’t use a pseudonym, you’re giving away your name too.
- IP address: With the cookies on Reddit, your IP address is also stored.
- Browsing activity on Reddit and beyond: The same cookies track your activity on Reddit and other sites to memorize your interests and online behaviors.
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.
Reddit’s dishonest track record
While users can enable a lot of privacy protection settings, Reddit has a history of going behind its users’ back. For example, back in 2019, Reddit secretly re-enabled account tracking. It even shared this data with third-parties. Right now, any user can disable account tracking from their settings.
A history of data breaches
The data on Reddit is enticing for hackers. That’s why Reddit has been the target of a lot of security breaches in the past. This can threaten your personal data regardless of your Reddit security settings, so it’s a real concern for anyone hopping on the “front page of the Internet.”
Fortunately, Reddit reacts professionally to data breaches: they research the situation, update their security systems accordingly, and update their users. This showed especially when a hacker managed to get access to some Reddit employees’ accounts in 2019.
Moreover, while Reddit privacy settings won’t help you in case of a breach, you can still take measures in order to stay safe while using Reddit — even in case of a breach. Let’s talk more about that.
How To Protect Yourself 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 “Preferences” 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.
- There are several settings that might be worth changing. We’ll discuss them all below.
Data personalization on Reddit
Reddit helps advertisers target users based on information built up in a personal profile. This profile consists of 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 may give Reddit additional 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. Here are the options you need to consider:
- Withdraw permission for Reddit to use your activity on the site to show more relevant ads. This will ensure that Reddit is no longer allowed to use your activity, subreddit visits, and links you click for targeted ads. You will still receive ads, but advertisers will not receive your information.
- Withdraw 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.
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 can always revoke that access. by following these steps:
- In the settings, click on “Authorized applications.”
- Locate the application you wish to unauthorize.
- 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 activated.
To turn this option off, click the slider next to “Search Engine Indexing.” This way, your activity on Reddit won’t be indexed in search engines.
Log outbound clicks
By default, Reddit records the links you click 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.
Sending messages on Reddit can be incredibly useful and nice — but it can also be the opposite. If you’re struggling with a stalker, or with an advertising bot spamming you with sales offers, you can block their incoming messages. In order to get more control over who can message you on Reddit, follow the steps below:
- Scroll down to “Messaging Privacy.”
- 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.
Protect Your Privacy on Reddit and Beyond
You might think 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 for others to follow. 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.
By 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 can’t be snooped on. By using 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 tools you can use to protect yourself online.
In this day and age it’s important to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes. Changing the privacy settings in all your account is a good start. A VPN will be of even more help. Keep in mind that using a VPN won’t make your entire Reddit account anonymous right away: you’re still using that account, and what you do with it can be tracked, even with a VPN. However, Reddit won’t be able to log your IP address, meaning the account won’t be tied to you — as long as you create an anonymous profile and use an anonymous email address to sign up.
To find the perfect VPN provider for your online needs, you can read our article with a top 5 of the best services or simply read on below to see what Reddit users recommend.
Best VPN According To Reddit
Reddit is known as an online source of information where, among other things, experienced people recommend the best tools and tips for all your needs. Many Reddit users are avid VPN users as well, and many of them really know what they’re talking about. So what VPN do Reddit users recommend? You can do your own research, and we recommend this thread as a good starting point. From what we found, a lot of Reddit users recommend ExpressVPN. We have to agree.
ExpressVPN is a wonderful tool that keeps you safe and anonymous online. It offers stable and fast connections that will allow you to scroll through Reddit (and browse the rest of the internet) for hours. It even has enhanced security features like a kill switch and top-notch encryption. Not to mention, you can use it to stream regionally restricted content.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
If you want to find out more, you can read our full ExpressVPN review.
Using Reddit can be addictive, informative, and fun. But it can also threaten your online safety if you’re not careful. Reddit tracks a lot of data about its users, and it uses that information to target you with ads. However, as long as you follow the tips outlined in this article, you can enjoy Reddit without sacrificing your privacy.
If you want to find out more about data tracking, privacy, and how to secure your privacy on Reddit, read our answers to the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
When you first create an account on Reddit, you won’t get a lot of privacy. The default settings allow Reddit to track and store a lot of data about you, including your IP, interests, and online activities (even when not on Reddit). If you want to enhance your safety on Reddit, make sure you:
- Sign up under a pseudonym.
- Use a VPN to hide your IP address.
- Set up less invasive data preferences. You can do this in the “Data Personalization” menu in Reddit’s settings.
If you want to find out more about how Reddit treats privacy, and how to protect yourself while using the platform, don’t forget to read our article about it.
Reddit tracks and stores data about you so it can be used to target you with ads. Even more worryingly, Reddit has been hacked in the past, endangering all that data.
Here’s how to prevent that:
- Sign up under a pseudonym, through an anonymous email service.
- Use strong passwords, and update them constantly.
- Use a VPN. This will maintain your IP hidden when online.
- Personalize your privacy settings on Reddit.