What Does Reddit Know About Me? How to Change Your Privacy Settings

Man reading his own file on Reddit
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What Reddit Knows About You: A Summary

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.

When you sign up for Reddit, you accept its Terms of Service. These terms allow Reddit to collect data about what you do on the site — as well as 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 makes a profit.

You can protect yourself against this by:

  • Changing your Reddit privacy settings, so you share fewer data with Reddit.
  • Installing a VPN to hide your IP address while browsing, making your web activities anonymous. Both Reddit users and our expert team agree that ExpressVPN is the best option.

If you want to find out more about how Reddit monetizes your information and how you can protect yourself, read our full article below.

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 ninth most visited website in the U.S. in 2021.

While Reddit is free for users, the site does provide advertising on its site, including advertising targeted to you based on your activity on the site and even on other sites (via the use of cookies). Accessing Reddit’s privacy settings is simple, and reviewing them only takes a few moments. So, why not secure your Reddit privacy while surfing the forum?

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.

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. Click on the tab marked “Privacy and Security” to access the privacy options.
  3. There are several settings that might be worth changing. We’ll discuss them all below.

Data personalization on Reddit

Reddit logoReddit 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.

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 can always revoke that access. by following these steps:

  1. In the settings, click on “Authorized applications.”
  2. Locate the application you wish to unauthorize.
  3. 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.

Incoming messages

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:

  1. Scroll down to “Messaging Privacy.”
  2. Click the arrow out beside “Who Can Message You.”
  3. 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.

How Does Reddit Use Your Data?

Reddit has a history of going behind its users’ backs. For example, back in 2019, Reddit secretly re-enabled account tracking. It even shared user data with third parties.

Furthermore, 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.

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.

This kind of security track record can make users distrust Reddit and be wary of the way it handles user privacy. How Reddit handles user data depends on their privacy policy, which we discuss next.

Reddit privacy policy

Reddit’s privacy policy allows advertisers and other third parties access to your data, but you have options to turn off some of their data tracking methods. The privacy policy does not explain if users will be notified of a data breach. This is all the more reason to protect your information before it gets in the hands of anyone else.

Here’s a closer look at what Reddit collects from you:

  • Reddit collects your registration information, any content you post, any activity such as liking, voting, or reporting,
  • If you purchase anything, all of your purchasing details are collected.
  • Any communications directly made to Reddit are collected including form submissions, job applications, or customer support.
  • Reddit collects your device information, usage data, and location.
  • Activity from your browser is collected in the form of cookies and used to “improve your experience.”
  • If you have linked accounts, your account information is shared with Reddit.
  • Interactions with advertisers or a site that uses Reddit embeds are collected.

How Reddit uses your data once it’s collected

Reddit says data collection improves their services, like targeted Reddit ads or your user experience. The good news is that Reddit never sells your data, but it is shared with connected apps, third party services, to comply with authorities, enforce the Reddit user agreement and user rights, with affiliates or subsidiaries, or in the form of anonymous statistics.

Here’s what Reddit does with your information, in general:

  • Research and development for new services
  • Blocking activity that violates the Reddit User Agreement
  • Customer service
  • Measuring trends
  • Analyzing and improving ads on Reddit

You can change many of your privacy settings as you read above, but due to the amount of data that Reddit collects, it’s wise to take additional steps to protect your data. One way to do this is to use a VPN, which we discuss next.

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.

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 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.

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If you want to find out more, you can read our full ExpressVPN review.

Protect Your Reddit Privacy and Safety Online

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 user data, and it uses that information to target you with ads.

It’s easy to make a few changes to your privacy settings. In your User Settings, you can turn off search engine indexing, turn off outbound link tracking, remove permissions for personalized ads, and disconnect third-party apps. Updating your settings gives you more control over what Reddit or its partners know about you.

For even better privacy online, use a VPN, like Express VPN, to keep your identity secure and your data safe from prying eyes. In just a few simple steps, you’ve created a far safer and more private Reddit experience online!

What Does Reddit Know About You?: Frequently Asked Questions

Still curious about Reddit privacy? Read our FAQs below to learn even more.

Moderately. Like other social platforms, Reddit collects information about you and then uses that data according to their Terms of Service (which we discuss in detail here).

Some of the information they collect includes your email address, IP address, and browsing activity. According to their ToS, Reddit can use your data to research and develop new features, analyze and improve ads on Reddit, and block any user activity that’s in violation of the User Agreement.

To turn on privacy settings on Reddit, follow these steps:

  1. From your Reddit homepage, go to “Preferences” just above the search bar online or click on your profile picture and select “User Settings.”
  2. Click on the tab called “Privacy and Security” to see the privacy options.
  3. There are several settings including data personalization, third-party authorizations, and chat and messaging preferences that will keep your information and activity more private on Reddit.

 

Yes, Reddit tracks your activity on and off their site (if you visit partner sites). Reddit advertising also targets you based on your activity. Additionally, Reddit tracks your activity to suggest posts and content based on your activity, location, and preferences. If you’re not a big fan of having your data tracked and shared with third parties, you will want to change your Reddit privacy settings.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.
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  1. Great write-up, very informative, Thank you for being there for us.

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