Hey there Noob Alliance!

Picture this: You’re innocently minding your own business while surfing the interwebs and a notification pops up in the corner of the window asking that you share your location info? And then you notice it happens on almost every single website you visit…Does this sound familiar?

The first time this happened to me I frowned, raised an eyebrow and hit the “block” button thinking that was the end of the strange request. Fast forward to a million annoying location requests later and it is now an actual thing that websites keep bugging people about this.

So why do websites ask for your location and it safe to allow websites access to that information?

Ads – Everyone’s Favorite *Cringe*

Nowadays more often than not, websites display ads on their pages.

By sharing your location with the website that you’re on, it gives the ad service that runs on that page the opportunity to show you products/services and deals that are actually relevant to you based on your location. It’s not really helpful looking at amazing deals that can’t ship to you or that isn’t available in your location.

Ads are no doubt annoying as things stand but add the “oh here’s a piece of delicious candy…. aww sorry you can’t have it” effect and you have a combination that takes the annoyance to the next level.

So in a way the location sharing aspect aims to benefit both the advertiser as well the website visitor.

More Targeted Search Results

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo use info like your location information and your search history to give you search results that are more relevant to you. This can be useful because to be fair, a search engine’s job is to give users the most accurate results.

It can also be a bit scary to think that in order to accomplish that they have to collect and analyze your habits and location. When I really think about how all this works the term “stalker” comes to mind.

Curious about cookies? Or more importantly – are cookies curious about YOU? Read more about them here!

Tailored User Experience

Now it’s not all about ads – another reason websites would like to know your location is because they’re getting fancier by the day and they can actually make your experience when you visit their pages very pleasant by doing things like:

  • Displaying the correct currency and converting prices automatically (if you’re shopping and the store is based in a different country from yours)
  • Displaying the correct shipping estimates before you get to the checkout button and preventing unpleasant surprises
  • Giving you the ability to check stock levels of items in chain stores around your area at branch level without having to search for the stores on the map section – in situations where you want to collect in-store instead of buy online
  • Showing you the correct weather forecast for your area when you visit weather forecast sites
  • Showing you news relevant to your country/area when visiting news sites

And the list can go on and on but those are just a couple examples.

Compliance With The Law

There are a gazillion rules and regulations to comply with these days and the online world is no exception. One of the laws directly relates to location. This law is called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and without going into too much garble it has to do with the protection and privacy of data of individuals from the European Union and the European Economic Area.

By allowing websites to know your location, they will automatically know whether you are fall under EU and whether this law pertains to you.

Is It Safe To Share Your Location?

It’s never my intention to freak anyone out and in my opinion it’s always better being aware of things than being in the dark so with that in mind the best way I can answer this is: If a hacker is trying to hack you chances are that with enough skill and determination they quite possibly can achieve whatever they want to no matter what “location” settings you disable or block.

Geolocation is scarily accurate – it doesn’t just “sort of” know where you are, a lot of the time it knows exactly where you are.

Just because hackers are magicians with keyboards does not mean we should just hand it to them on a plate. There are still plenty things we can (and should) do to make them work for it.

Having a good Anti-Virus and Firewall installed on your devices and implementing good browsing habits is an excellent start. 


Are you browsing the ‘interwebz’ safely? Make sure you have all your wits about you – read more about staying safe on the internet here!

One of the best ways to protect your privacy on the internet is to make use of a VPN service. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) service hides your location and also encrypts all the data going to and from your computer.

If you’d like to know more about what a VPN is and how it works this short video does a good job at explaining:

Don’t Care About The Details – Just Want To Turn It Off?

While all this is really interesting maybe the notification that keeps haunting you is more annoying than anything else and you just want to make it stop. If that’s you then here’s how to do it :

Noob Tip: Keep in mind that by turning off the notification settings and blocking sites from using your location that some website features (mentioned above) may not work properly when you’re surfing the web.

>>>Scroll down to your browser and follow the appropriate steps<<<

Not sure which one you have? Look at this illustration showing the shortcut icons next to their browser names:

Google Chrome

  • Open Google Chrome’s Browser
  • In the top right-hand corner of Chrome click on the button that shows three little dots stacked on top of one another
  • Or type in chrome://settings/ into the address bar at the top and press Enter on your keyboard
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on “Advanced”
  • This will expand a bunch of extra settings
  • Look under “Privacy and security”
  • Find and click on “Content Settings”
  • Click on “Location”
  • Click on the little blue slider so that the wording changes to from “Ask Before Accessing” to “Blocked”

To go a step further and stop other annoying push-notifications from websites:

  • Click the back arrow next to the heading “Location”
  • Look for and click on “Notifications”
  • Click the slider so that it turns gray and the wording changes to “Blocked”
  • Close the tab and start browsing as usual

Microsoft Edge

Edge’s location settings are governed by the location settings in Windows 10.

  • Click on the Start button in left-hand bottom corner of your screen
  • Use your keyboard and start typing the word “location” (without the inverted commas)
  • Your computer will do a quick search for related programs or files
  • The very first result (under “best match”) at the top of the start menu should be “Location privacy settings”
  • Click on that “Location privacy settings” suggested result
  • If that doesn’t work you can also get there by going the longer way :
  • –> Click on the Start button
  • –> Click on the Settings button right above the Power button
  • –> Click on “Privacy” (Button with a picture of a lock)
  • –> Click on “Location” on the left-hand side
  • The “Location” settings will now be shown to you
  • Click on the button that says “Change” underneath the words “location for this device is…”
  • A little slider will appear indicating if location is on or off
  • If it is on, click on the slider so that the notch snaps to the left and the indicator says “Off”
  • Close the window and start browsing

Internet Explorer

  • Open Internet Explorer
  • In the top right-hand corner look for a little picture of a cog and click on it
  • A drop down menu will pop up
  • Click on “Internet Options”
  • Click on the “Privacy” tab at the top of the Options window
  • Tick the box next to “Never allow websites to request your physical location”
  • Note that the option will be grayed out if you are using Windows 10 or 8 and have disabled your location settings in Windows as described in the section above (Microsoft Edge settings)

You can go a step further to stop showing blocked pop-ups if you want to be totally undisturbed

  • –> Click on “Settings” within the same Privacy tab next to “Turn On Pop-Up Blocker” (make sure that box is ticked)
  • –> In the Pop-up blocker settings window un-tick “Show notifications bar when a pop- up is blocked”
  • –> Click “Close”
  • –> Click on “Ok”
  • Close and re-open Internet Explorer to make sure that settings have taken effect (this is just an in-case step)
  • Carry on browsing as usual

Firefox

  • Open Firefox
  • In the address bar type about:config and press Enter on your keyboard
  • A page will open displaying a warning about voiding warranty – don’t freak out 😉
  • Click “I accept the risk”
  • A window full of intense looking scrips will open – again, don’t freak out just keep following the steps
  • Click in the search bar at the top (the bar underneath the address bar)
  • Type geo.enabled and press Enter on your keyboard
  • This will search for the setting in that long list and bring it up in the search window
  • Double click on “geo.enabled” entry
  • When you do that the ‘value’ must change from “true” to “false”
  • In the search bar clear your previous search and press Enter
  • All the entries will show again

To go a step further and stop other annoying push-notifications from websites:

  • Type dom.webnotifications.enabled in the search bar and press Enter
  • Double click on the “dom.webnotifications.enabled” entry and make sure the “value” changes from true to false
  • Close and re-open Firefox and carry on browsing as usual

I realize this one can be a little bit scary so I’ve made a video to guide you – we’re not going to delete the world by accident, I promise 😉

Opera

  • Open Opera
  • Click on the red “O” at the top left-hand side of the window
  • A drop down list will open
  • Click “Settings”
  • On the left-hand side bar at the top click on “Advanced”
  • Then click on “Privacy & Security”
  • In the middle of the window it will navigate you to privacy and security settings
  • Click on “Content settings”
  • Then click on “Location”
  • Click on the slider next to “Ask before accessing” to disable to setting. The slider must be gray – this indicates you’ve disabled Geolocation

To go a step further and stop other annoying push-notifications from websites:

  • Click on the back arrow at the top next to the heading “Location”
  • Look for and click on “Notifications”
  • Click on the slider next to “Ask before sending” so that it appears gray
  • Close the Settings tab and continue browsing as usual

Some More Thoughts Before Diving Back Into The Deep

I hope this helped somewhat to address the nagging notifications and I really hope you don’t leave this post feeling more paranoid than you were before!

I don’t like the feeling of my browsing habits, location and such to be known by the limitless mysterious inner workings of the web but I also feel like disabling these settings can really cripple my internet experience.

For example if you use video streaming services like Netflix you may find that some content previously available to you now appears to be blocked after disabling geolocation because they rely on knowing where their viewers tune in from (some content is blocked in certain regions).

Ultimately it could prove more annoying to turn the setting off than to just leave it on!

Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think about this whole geolocation business. I would love to hear your thoughts!

18 Comments

  1. Ngonidzashe Manzwangani

    Reply

    Great to know about why websites want to know our Geo-locations. I was a bit skeptical about sharing my location, but after reading this article, I understands now some of the reasons are very valued. Reasons like tailored user experience and targeted search results, works for the good of the user. 

    In some way its bad to share your location but in the other way you benefit, so it worth it 

    Thank you so much for great info

    • Nadia

      Reply

      It’s my pleasure, it’s wonderful to be able to demystify tech so that everyone can know what’s going on!

  2. Wong Chen Dong

    Reply

    Well, I didn’t know that was for for ads actually, thought it was just another pop up. But nowadays, I see pop up asking if we want notification update of the latest post from the blog, sometimes it’s really annoy me. Pop up subscribe form is already quite annoying when I’m reading halfway, now with this pop up, it just unnecessary.   

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Wong – I know how you feel about all the notifications and pop-ups. They really annoy me too!

  3. Emmanuel Buysse

    Reply

    Great post and good info.

    Personally, I never give my location, because simply, I don’t want and I don’t want ads or something like this.

    It is also about safety, I don’t want bad people or scammy sites get my files, because with location they can track it, and with that idea alone, no thanks.

    But thanks for writing it, because you can make people think about it!

  4. Dave

    Reply

    Hallo there Nadia, 

    I have to say that you are the only person who has boiled down the issue of asking for locations as well as ads the best on the web.

    I have been disappointed by websites asking for my location because it felt like they were trying to get access to my privacy, which is something I never want to give away. I don’t like strangers especially web owners in my personal space.

    But the way you have explained has made me realize that it is for my own good if I give them access.

    Thanks a lot for clearing up the mist for me. I really appreciate.

    Have an awesome day!

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hi there Dave – I feel the same about my privacy. It’s very easy for our privacy to be compromised these days in the digital world we live in!

  5. Shira K

    Reply

    This is a really good article.  I usually would just block my geolocation.  After reading this, I realized that there are benefits to allowing your location to be known like more targeted search results and regulations.  I never knew that if I blocked my location, it would limit which data I could receive. 

    Even scarier is that hackers can still access your private information even if you block your location.  I really do see the importancety and safety of VPN’s.  Do you recommend anything in specific?

    Thanks,

    Shira

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Shira thank you for visiting me here, I’m always happy to hear when my readers find value in the things I write about! There are quite a few good VPNs on the market , have a look at PureVPN or NordVPN.

  6. BEazzy Shifts

    Reply

    Hello friend. Thank you for sharing this article. This is so so educating as to why websites ask for location. Like you have said, when a website does that, it simple wants to know one’s location in order to show the compatible advertisement or offer that it is required to share with the reader

  7. Olonisakin Kehinde

    Reply

    Am happy to come about this post.  Thank you so much.  I used to think sharing your location gives hackers the opportunity to hack into your data.  Often I do not allow my locations to be shared.  😂. I will follow the walk through you provided on settings. 

    Please,  can you do a post on cookies. 

  8. Michael

    Reply

    I knew that website asked you location for ads, but I didn’t know they used it for other things like checking the weather and possible stocks in your location too.

    I never really had a problem sharing my location because like you said it’s a win win situation. So it’s only there to help me.

    Have you ever created ads before that used people’s location?

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hey there Michael – I’ve never created ads before – I leave that to the pro’s and stick to writing helpful content for newbies. At the moment my website doesn’t need to know anyone’s location but maybe as it gets fancier that might change! 😉

  9. Telma

    Reply

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for wonderful information. I am one of those people that receive this pop up on my left side up of my screen and delete them all the time. I do it so often that I don’t read anymore; every time I see it coming I make sure to make disappear. I did not know how benefit could be for me on find my location with purpose to help me and telling me if they have the product that I look for so I don’t waist my time by the end when I decide to buy and they may say: “sorry we don’t have your product available”, fact this already happened with me, and took many days before they ship to me.

    The video about VPN is short, but so powerful; help me understand better how to protect my pc or iPhone from curious people or hackers.

    I love the fact that you show us step by step how to disable those pop ups. I have Explorer, Firewall and Google Chrome, and is very nice to know how to work inside to keep my information safe if I don’t want intruders. I am saving you article as a manual about those tips.

    All the best my dear,

    Telma

    • Nadia

      Reply

      Hi there Telma it’s my pleasure! I feel the same about notifications – my natural reaction is to block, close or disable them without even reading them. Wishing you a super awesome day ahead!

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