RSS Feeds: The Privacy-Conscious Way to Stay Informed

· 5 min read
RSS Feeds: The Privacy-Conscious Way to Stay Informed

If you’re like most internet users, you probably have a long list of websites that you visit regularly to stay up to date on the latest news, sports scores, and other updates. Whether it’s the latest news, sports scores, or just your favorite blogs, there’s always something new to discover online. But did you know that there’s a way to keep track of all these updates without giving up your privacy? That’s where RSS feeds come in.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what RSS feeds are, how they work, and how they can help you protect your privacy online.

What are RSS feeds, and how do they work?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it’s a way for websites to publish their updates in a standard format that can be easily accessed by users. This allows people to keep track of their favorite websites without having to visit them directly. Instead, they can use an RSS reader to view the latest updates from the sites they are interested in.

Here’s how it works: when a website has an RSS feed, it will provide a special link that users can add to their RSS reader. Whenever there’s a new update on the website, the RSS reader will automatically fetch the new content and display it for the user to see. This means that you can get all the latest updates from your favorite websites in one place, without having to visit each site individually. The good thing is that most websites offer RSS feeds.

There are several benefits to using an RSS feed compared to visiting websites directly. For one, it’s more efficient. Instead of having to visit each website separately, you can see all the updates in one place. This can save you a lot of time and effort. Additionally, using an RSS feed can reduce the amount of personal data that is shared with websites. When you visit a website directly, the website can track your activity and collect information about you. But when you use an RSS feed, the website doesn’t know who you are, so it can’t track you or collect your personal data.

I personally use RSS feeds to keep up with the latest news in the infosec world. Having a dedicated RSS reader on my phone allows me to subscribe to the feeds of my favorite websites. This allows me to quickly see all the latest updates from these sites in one place, without having to visit each site individually.

How do RSS feeds help with privacy?

In addition to the privacy benefits mentioned above, using an RSS feed can also help protect you from being tracked by third parties. When you visit a website directly, the website can use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect information about you. This information can then be shared with third parties, such as advertisers, for targeted advertising. But when you use an RSS feed, the website does not know who you are, so it cannot track you or share your information with third parties.

Another potential benefit of using an RSS feed is increased security. When you visit a website directly, you are at the mercy of the website’s security measures. If the website is hacked or has vulnerabilities, your personal information could be at risk. But when you use an RSS feed, you are not directly visiting the website, so you are not exposed to the same risks.

How to use RSS feeds

If you are interested in using RSS feeds to stay up-to-date and protect your privacy, here is how to get started:

Choose an RSS reader.

There are several options for accessing RSS feeds, such as using a dedicated RSS reader or a web-based service. A dedicated RSS reader is a piece of software that you download and install on your computer or mobile device. This allows you to access your RSS feeds even when you are offline. Some popular RSS readers include Feedly and Inoreader.

Web-based services, on the other hand, allow you to access your RSS feeds through a web browser. This means that you can access your feeds from any device with an internet connection. Some popular web-based services include The Old Reader.

Host your own RSS reader:

Hosting your own RSS reader allows you to have complete control over your RSS feeds and ensures that your personal data remains private. With Servers becoming cheaper every day, thanks to Cloud providers like DigitalOcean with servers going for as low as $6, anyone can host anything pretty quickly. By hosting your own RSS reader, you can avoid the potential risks of using a third-party service, such as the possibility of your data being collected or shared without your consent. Additionally, hosting your own RSS reader allows you to customize the features and design to meet your specific needs. This can include adding support for encrypted connections, blocking third-party tracking, and integrating with other privacy-focused tools. Overall, hosting your own RSS reader can provide greater security, control, and privacy for your RSS feed subscriptions.

Chris Titus Tech has a detailed article explaining how you can achieve this. This is the setup I use for several other updates I like checking often.

Find the RSS feed for the website you want to follow.

Most websites that offer RSS feeds will have a link to their feed on their homepage or in their website’s footer. The link to the RSS feed will usually include the words “RSS” or “feed” in the URL. For example, the RSS feed for the New York Times can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/index.html.

It is important to note that most websites have started abusing this feature and use RSS feeds for ADs, brief summaries, and bait just for you to be redirected back to their site. As Chris puts it, we fix this by using a feed aggregator and never leaving our RSS reader. For the Techies, the docker self-hosted aggregator is a good one, but you can use fivefilters aggregator to avoid the complexities of setting up your own infrastructure.

Add the RSS feed to your RSS reader.

Once you have found the RSS feed for the website you want to follow, you can add it to your RSS reader. This will allow the RSS reader to automatically fetch the latest updates from the website and display them for you to see.

Enjoy staying up to date without sacrificing your privacy.

With your RSS reader set up, you can now enjoy staying up to date with your favorite websites without worrying about being tracked or having your personal data collected. You can access your RSS feeds from any device with an internet connection, and you can do so anonymously, without having to share your personal information with the websites you subscribe to.

When choosing an RSS reader, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure privacy. First, look for a reader that supports encrypted connections, such as HTTPS. This will help protect your information from being intercepted by third parties. Second, look for an RSS reader that offers options for blocking third-party tracking. This will help prevent websites from collecting information about you through the RSS feed. Finally, consider using a privacy-focused RSS reader, such as Nuzzel or Inoreader, which prioritize privacy in their design and features.

Conclusion

RSS feeds are a fantastic way to stay informed about your favorite websites without giving up your privacy. By using an RSS feed, you can avoid being tracked by websites and third parties, and you can access your favorite content in a more efficient and secure way. If you are looking for a privacy-conscious way to stay up to date, consider using an RSS feed. Try it and experience the convenience and privacy benefits for yourself.

Do you use RSS feeds to stay up-to-date and protect your privacy online? Share your experiences in the comments section below.