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 NordVPN 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 LogoReddit 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 open nature of discussions on Reddit contributes to users’ willingness to share opinions more honestly than they might elsewhere. You might feel less hindered on the site, but be aware that Reddit stores information about you, your device, and your activity. Here’s are the main details Reddit stores about users:

  • 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.

If you don’t want your online activity to be read like a book by advertisers, hackers, your ex-partner, or employers (and you don’t feel like deleting your Reddit account), then it’s time to set your Reddit privacy settings. Let’s talk about that next.

How to Adjust Your Reddit Privacy Settings

You may not have had much reason to visit Reddit’s privacy settings and preferences before. When you sign up for a Reddit account, your settings are set to default, which automatically ticks ‘ON’ on every option that allows Reddit to track your activity on or off the app.

While personalization options are somewhat limited on the platform, there are some steps you can take to improve your safety on Reddit:

Here’s how to see your privacy settings on Reddit:

  1. Log into your account and look for “Preferences” just above the search bar online. You can also click on your profile icon and select “User Settings.” You’ll need to use a browser on your mobile device or computer to access these.
  2. Click on the tab marked “Safety and Privacy” to access the privacy options.

Screenshot Reddit Safety and Privacy Menu

There are several Reddit privacy settings that are worth checking and possibly changing. We’ll discuss them all below.

Show up in search results

By default, Reddit allows search engines to index your profile. This means that a Google search can turn up posts you have commented on in the past, subreddits you are active in, and more. Marketers, your partner’s mom, coworkers, or anyone else can find your activity on Reddit with a simple online search.

To turn this option off, go to Safety and Privacy in the User Settings, and click the slider next to “Show up in search results.” This way, your activity on Reddit won’t be indexed in search engines.

By default, Reddit records the links you click that take you to another site. This information is extremely valuable for advertisers who want 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 “Personalize all of Reddit based on the outbound links you click on” to turn this off and protect your Reddit safety.

Data personalization on Reddit

The next four options relate to how 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.

Keep in mind: Reddit privacy settings only apply to your use of the site 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 personalize ads based on information from their partners. This way Reddit can’t use third-party data tracking to send you targeted ads.
  • Withdraw permission for Reddit to personalize ads based on your activity with their partners. This tells Reddit not to track your activity across third-party sites and use that information to send you targeted ads.
  • Withdraw permission for Reddit to send recommendations based on your location. This way, Reddit can’t use your IP address as well as your city, state, or country details to recommend posts and communities.
  • Withdraw permission to personalize recommendations based on your activity with Reddit’s partners. This tells Reddit not to track your activity across third-party sites and use that information to recommend posts or communities.

Reddit's data personalization options

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 Settings at the bottom of the Safety and Privacy Page, click on “Manage third-party app authorization.”
  2. Locate the application you wish to unauthorize.
  3. Click “revoke access” near the bottom left of that section.

Reddit's authorized applications screen with "Revoke access" highlighted

Incoming messages on Reddit

If you’re struggling with a stalker on Reddit, or if an advertising bot is spamming you with sales offers, you can block their incoming messages.

In order to get more control over who can message you, adjust your Reddit privacy settings using these steps:

  1. Go to the “Chat and Messaging” tab under User Settings.
  2. Click the dropdown menu next to “Who can send you chat requests.”
  3. You have the option to either allow “everyone,” “nobody,” or “accounts older than 30 days” to message you.
  4. Next, go to the drop-down next to “Who can send you private messages.”
  5. You can choose between “nobody” or “everyone,” or you can add approved users.

Screenshot Reddit Chat and Messaging Settings

If you are fine with everyone sending you private messages except a small list of people, you can also blacklist those users. This way, they can no longer message you on Reddit.

To block a user, go to “Safety and Privacy,” and then “People You’ve Blocked.” From there, you can click “Add” to block a new user.

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.

Use a VPN to Protect Your Reddit Privacy and More

VPN shield icon on a dark laptopYou might think using Reddit while logged out is enough to protect your privacy and keep advertisers from learning much about your interests and activity. However, even while logged out, you leave a trail for others to follow.

Advertisers and anyone with moderate knowledge of tracking people online can easily build a portfolio of your activity, both on Reddit and across the internet. If this is a concern for you, you should consider getting a virtual private network (VPN).

Data to and from a VPN server is encrypted, ensuring your connection can’t be snooped on. Reddit won’t be able to log your IP address, so the activity isn’t tied to you– as long as you create an anonymous profile and use an anonymous email address to sign up.

You can find a reputable VPN provider in our article with a top 5 list of the best services. Or, read on below to see what VPN service Reddit users recommend.

Best VPN According to Reddit Users

Many Redditor are avid VPN users, and according to this thread, a lot of Reddit users recommend NordVPN.

NordVPN offers stable and fast connections that let you scroll through Reddit (and the rest of the internet) for hours. We like that it 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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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 NordVPN, 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 in this article on Reddit’s privacy settings).

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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