Like it or lump it, everything you do, say or look at online is tracked, stored and ultimately resold to you as advertising or personalised content. It’s the way of life on the modern web, we’re told.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way?
This is the question the Brave web browser poses.
Since many social media platforms and media publishing companies offer their services for free in exchange for user data, Brave flips the equation around and removes any way for your information to be tracked in exchange for the ability to donate directly to the site creators.
An extensive set of controls allow Brave users to finely control how much of their data is accessible to third party content harvesters. For example, you can specifically forbid social media sites from accessing your browsing history or prevent convenience-at-a-cost services like Google or Facebook logins from tracking which sites you visit.
Going further you can see what cookies are enabled and turn all (or some) of them off. Even things like predictive text can be turned off – after all, they’re using information they have on you to make educated guesses on what you want.
Ads for Ads Sake
If you feel like viewing ads, however, there’s an option for that, too. You can select certain sites to deliver ads and get in-browser credit for the experience. That credit can be used towards anonymous donations made to site creators that you may not want to get ads from but feel they should be duly rewarded for their efforts.
Of course, you can always turn off these privacy-protecting features if you want to keep using the web in the way our megacorp overlords want us to. In fact, the Brave browser is built on the same Chromium framework that Google’s Chrome and even Microsoft’s Edge browsers are built on. In fact, you can even use the extensions built for Chrome seamlessly in Brave.
In a world where Google control the majority of not just the way you find websites, but also the browser you view them in and the ads that are served on them, it’s good to know there’s an alternative that gives more control of your online fingerprint.
Putting it to the test
It all sounds great in theory, but how does the Brave browser stack up in reality? Overall, we’re really impressed.
Basically, Brave is just like Chrome but with some lovely built in ad blocking features that update in real-time. That means it has Chrome’s speedy responsiveness and all the vast support on the Chrome Extensions marketplace, which is great. It handles every modern website design element thrown at it with ease. Browsing speed was improved over Chrome because of all the ad blocking, meaning page content could load faster as we weren’t waiting for ads to appear first.
You have complete control over what sites can trouble you with ads, cookies, browser fingerprinting (basically a way to detect the browser and operating system you’re using), and third-party scripts. You can fine-tune the protection to give certain sites (such as ones you trust or want to support through advertising) the ability to deliver this type of content, and it was great not to have any annoying videos autoplay and catch your attention.
Overall, Brave makes you aware of how much you’re bombarded with advertising. Within an hour, Brave had blocked 250 ads. In three days of browsing, Brave blocked 194 trackers and 2,899 ads. Imagine receiving this much advertising while watching a movie. You would demand your money back.
Innovation in the browser marketplace is critically important, and we highly recommend giving Brave a try to see how the web could be without advertising controlling what you see half the time.
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