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The must have privacy tweak for Chrome users

Chrome is a great browser. It's fast and doesn't suffer from the performance issues and weird quirks that Firefox has. But with that comes the fact that it's leaking a lot more of your personal data than you probably know.

The single most important tweak you can make to Chrome is surprisingly, one of the least known ones.

By default, Chrome syncs with your Google accounts

What this means is that if you use ANY Google service, or even sign in with a Google account on Instacart or anywhere else, then Chrome will automatically sign you in to Chrome.

So you sign in to Gmail and now your browsing activity is being logged. 

But wait... it gets worse!

Android devices sync your location to your Google accounts

If you have an Android device, then you almost certainly have a Google account. If your phone's location services are on - or even if they are only allowed for certain services like Maps or Waze - then your location will be synced to your Google account in near real time.

If your phone is anywhere near your actual physical location, this enables Google to identify you ... even if behind a VPN.

Let that sink in... you can be identified through a VPN. 

You can see if this is happening by searching for "what is my ip" on Google. Scroll to the bottom of the screen. Ideally, you'll see that it reports your location based on your IP address (possibly a cloaked one). 

If on the other hand, it states that your location has been determined from your device, you're being tracked.

This tweak is so easy, there's no reason not to use it

I shared this tweak with Geoffrey Fowler of the Washington Post over a year ago and he was shocked. Here was an expert who had talked to many engineers on the Chrome team and he had never heard of it. 

What it does is disable Chrome's default behavior so that your browser isn't signing itself in when you use Gmail or other services. 

1. In Chrome, click the three dots in the upper right and select "Settings"

2. Type "sync" in the search bar.

3. Select "Sync and Google services" from the results

4. Find the setting "Allow Chrome sign-in" and toggle it off.

With Chrome automatic sign-in disabled, you've just disabled an important link that can be used to track your browsing activity and physical location.