Tech

Instead of being tracked, get paid to see online ads

Jefferson Graham

USA TODAY

Published 10:12 AM EDT Jul 6, 2019

Many of us are upset about the level of tracking that Amazon, Google and Facebook engage in as we use their websites. They follow our every move and beyond changing some settings, there's not enough we can do to stop them.

If you're as concerned as I am, here's a fun weekend project for you — switch internet browsers. And potentially make a few dollars for your efforts.

Most of us use Google's Chrome, which as the Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler recently reported, is such a data hungry browser, he found 11,000 trackers from his Chrome surfing in just a week.

I downloaded the alternative Brave browser Friday, which is aimed at those of us who aren't cool with having our privacy invaded. In just three hours of using it, Brave told me that 10 trackers had been blocked, along with 887 ads.

Now that's service!

Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox also claim to be vigilant in terms of blocking trackers and ads, but they're not as vocal as Brave is in showing you the results. And they won't pay you to watch what Brave hopes are less evasive ads.

Chrome is the windows to the Internet from Google, which makes its money by selling targeted ads. (Google reaped some $136 billion in revenue in 2018.) The browser connects you to the Google search engine, YouTube, Maps and other cash machines from the Google empire.

Brave has a different idea. "You are not a product. Why use a browser that treats you like one?" it asks consumers.

So it blocks "third party" ads, the ones that come from ad exchanges and follow you around the Web, say, from Amazon to Facebook to CNET, but will allow "first party" ads. If Amazon is advertising something on its website, Brave lets that through.

Brave will reward you and I for looking at one to five ads per hour via its browser. The idea is that you agree to look at ads from sites you like and thus get rewarded. The advertisers send 70% of the revenues to us, and Brave holds onto 30%.

On Twitter, users have posted about bringing in as little as 37 cents to as much as $15.

"We're not talking thousands of dollars," says Brave's Catherine Corre. "It's a brand new program, and it's early days."

The odds of Brave succeeding with this is are low. This tiny Silicon Valley startup is competing with giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple in the Browser Wars. But let's applaud the company for trying something radically different. Instead of having ad companies track our every move and drive us batty, Brave is simply paying us for your time.

And what's that worth to you?

Brave is available as a desktop and mobile browser, on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

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