With great difficulty, in short! And the reason for that is that it’s very much in the interests of every platform, including Facebook, to keep you on their site for as long as possible, so that they can earn more revenue from adverts.
So they’re only going to want to show you content that interests you, and that’s why the internet is becoming a giant echo chamber that only reflects back to you your own views.
"The more the internet knows about you, the more it’ll show content that it thinks you’ll be interested in – and the less it knows about you, then the more it has to guess."
The best thing that you can do, probably, is to use a different web browser – something like Tor – and go incognito, regularly deleting your cached pages and your cookies. In all your individual settings for specific apps and websites, hide as much information about yourself as you possibly can.
Also, if you use WhatsApp, it uses data from your conversations and adds that to the huge internet database that marketers use, so if you mention something in a WhatsApp chat, you might find ads appearing for that very thing elsewhere – but if you go into your individual WhatsApp settings, you can actually turn that function off.
The more the internet knows about you, the more it’ll show content that it thinks you’ll be interested in, and the less it knows about you, then the more it has to guess – so what you see won’t be quite so filtered.
"I don’t think people realise the extent to which they’re being monitored and scrutinised."
There was an interesting story I read about a lady who was pregnant and wanted to hide her pregnancy from the internet. Pregnant women are worth a lot more to marketing companies than regular consumers, because of the number of buying decisions they’ll be making that amount to huge sums of money over their lifetime (like nappies!). So this lady told all of her friends not to write anything about her pregnancy online, and didn’t use her own accounts or credit cards to buy anything. She bought an Amazon gift card from Sainsbury’s, paid in cash, and used it to buy things through a new Amazon account that she’d set up especially. She bought everything using cash and didn’t search for any baby products or pregnancy information online.
Because she’d gone to all these different lengths to remain anonymous, and was acting so out of the ordinary, her online behaviour patterns were actually flagged up by a surveillance agency as being suspicious – they thought she might be a terrorist.
In theory, we should accept the collection of data and algorithms as part of life. If you look at the positives, it means we’re not wasting time seeing information and consuming media that we don’t care about. In practice, it’s down to the individual as to how much they’re bothered by it – but I don’t think people realise the extent to which they’re being monitored and scrutinised. Nowadays, the internet knows our patterns of behaviour, and can analyse everything.