Did you know that the tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started as a Christmas parade? It started in 1924, ran 6 miles from 145th street all the way down to the Macy’s store at 34th and Broadway.

The entire parade consisted of three horse-drawn floats including Mother Goose, Little Miss Muffet, four bands, a variety of animals from the Central Park Zoo and, of course, Santa Claus was the last one in the lineup. Apparently, the animals themselves were unnerved by all the noise, crowds, music and commotion that they roared and growled the entire route—not a fanciful way to enjoy them for many. Believe it or not, the gigantic helium balloons that appeared in 1927 were to replace the camels, donkeys, elephants and goats that scared small children. At the conclusion of the parade, the balloons were released into the air and Macy’s offered rewards for their proper return. That ended in 1932 after an aircraft pilot attempted to capture a balloon and unceremoniously crashed! As the 30s rolled on, celebrities were added, and the parade grew and grew into the spectacular tradition that we know and love today. These days, over 50 million viewers tune in on Thanksgiving morning to see the parade on TV, while another almost 4 million revelers bundle up and enjoy the extravaganza in person.

It would be almost impossible to see each one of those individual paradegoers in the midst of this huge scene. And it would be even harder still to figure out how each one got to the parade, understanding their choice of transportation, viewing the route they took, cataloguing the food they ate, noting where they may have parked a car, etc.

But in the world of the Internet today…where over 4 billion people “travel” every day, it is possible for search engines and other entities to know exactly what each of those individuals did as they surfed the web. If you are not careful, everything you do may be tracked! So, how can an Internet user stay “lost in the crowd” like those on the street watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Stay Anonymous on the World Wide Web

Here are some suggestions to enjoy the venue of the world wide web more anonymously:

Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection: ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two alternatives. This disables the ability for you to be tracked.

Use Incognito/Private Mode: This prevents your browser from saving any data from websites you visit including cookies, history and any data you enter in a web form.

Use Guest Mode: Use this option if you are on someone else’s computer. It allows you to visit sites without them storing cookies or browser history.

Avoid Major Search Engines: Google and others collect the most data about you in order to serve you with relevant ads. Try alternatives like DuckDuckGo or Tor which do not deliver personalized search results.

Hide Your IP Address: Try to use a proxy server which routes your connection through a different server so your IP address cannot be tracked.

Use an Alias Email Address: When you do not want your email address to be known, use an alias (which forwards your email from an alias account). The recipient will not see your real address.

Need help remaining anonymous on the Internet? Contact us here and let IT Radix help you keep in step with technology and stay incognito on the Internet.

First published in our November 2019 IT Radix Resource newsletter