In today’s world, websites are used for everything from accessing email to ordering food. However, this also makes it easier for companies to now know more about you than ever before. Websites tracking data put your privacy at risk. While most people may not mind the idea of their data being tracked and analyzed, there are many things that a website can track to get to know everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) about you. Today, we will be going over the 7 frightening ways websites are tracking you right now.
1 Privacy And First-Party Cookies
First-party cookies are bits of information saved by your web browser on your computer that the website you are visiting tracks for you. This can be anything from the web pages you visit, to what you place in your shopping cart. While it is true that you have agreed to this in a pop-up that says they want to use the cookies, and you most likely accept this due to wanting to save these searches for later, it still can be creepy to consider that this information is out there for anyone to find.
In the end, this may not be the most outrageous form of website data tracking on this list, but it is still something that you should be concerned about, as it is one more thing that working hard to identify and profile you.
2 Privacy And Third-Party Cookies
Third-Party Cookies are far more sinister. These are pieces of code that track your data on behalf of a website other than the one you are visiting. Cookies allow the company to see many different things from when you click on a certain website, to what you buy online and much more. And these cookies allow the information to be sent, even if it’s going to another site that you are not visiting. For example, if I were to visit website “X”, and I accepted All Cookies, then website “Y” could also be given my information. Tactics like this can help companies get a full picture of a web visitor’s life, based solely on their browsing history.
This means that you risk being seen and valued not as a person, but rather as a potential customer for a product, and little else. Everything is tracked about you to target you with ads you are likely to respond to. News websites can use tracking information to control what news stories you will see, keeping you in a bubble of information, and preventing you from seeing or hearing alternative narratives.
3 Facebook Knows Everything About You ... Because You Let Them
While Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, it comes with serious online digital privacy protection issues. The main thing Facebook wants you to do is post, post again, and when you’re done with that … post even more! No matter the content.
This may be a great way for you to express yourself, share new ideas, and engage in conversations you might not otherwise do in face-to-face social situations.
But you should also be warned that other people can see your content too. Depending on your privacy settings, this can even include potential employers who might take exception to your form of self-expression.
Then there is how Facebook stores, manages, and analyzes your information. Have you ever shared a few memes about bicycling that you thought were funny? Did you suddenly notice that you’re now seeing ads on Facebook for the latest bicycles? There is also the fact that Facebook and its app actively track your activities across other websites and mobile apps. It’s all information that is used in combination with artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to build massive profiles on its users.
Overall, one of the most dangerous things you can do at this point is to share any personal information on Facebook. Not only is it publicly accessible, but it’s also analyzed and studied, and then sold to marketing companies and advertisers all over the world. In short, protecting your internet privacy means ditching your Facebook account.
4 Google Knows And Saves Everything About You
When it comes to search giants, none have the scope and reach of Google, to the point where Google saves your searches specific to you and your IP address. Your Google internet experience is anything but private. Google knows more about you, your past, present, and future than you do. And Google never forgets.
This includes not just your search history, but also any documents and projects on your Google Drive folder, in your Gmail account, or on your Google Calendar. And don’t forget, Google owns at least 16 other popular websites including YouTube and FitBit …, and every juicy tidbit of information on them.
Google builds extensive and complex profiles of all Internet users that include every insane detail of your private life including (but not limited to): marital status, political beliefs, sexual preferences, and even your more interesting searches related to all sorts of things that will embarrass your mother.
All of this data is sold to private companies who use it for targeted advertising, governments to track their citizens, police forces for law enforcement and crime investigation, pharmaceuticals for new drugs, and so much more. All of which decreases your privacy online.
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5 Your Privacy Isn't Just About The Websites You Visit, It's About Your Browser Too
Your internet browser is ratting you out. It’s not simply a matter of avoiding dodgy websites. At the same time, your browser collects a lot of personal information and can actively share it with anyone who requests or purchases it.
Google Chrome renders anonymity into a near-foreign concept for most users. They built their massive empire by selling your privacy and digital information. These companies have done such a good job that even a spoken conversation in front of your computer can result in a sudden barrage of ads related to what you’ve just spoken about.
Companies build free browsers for the price of your privacy. That’s the deal.
The only way to change this up and protect your online privacy is to install special extensions and plugins that work hard to protect your privacy. But sometimes even they’re not safe.
6 Then There Is Fingerprinting ...
Fingerprinting is when a website forces your browser to hand over seemingly innocent information about the system you are using to browse that website. Examples include the screen resolution, the type of computer, as well as the processor core used to power it. This information can then be compared across all of their other websites and visitors over an entire historical timeline to pinpoint your identity with laser accuracy.
Once they know who you are, browser fingerprinting can be used to track and monitor your entire online life, no matter where you go or how you visit. Your profile becomes a profitable commodity, bought, sold, and traded.
What’s the kicker? Using Incognito or Privacy mode doesn’t stop fingerprinting. Installing a Cookie blocker to block all first and third-party cookies doesn’t stop fingerprinting either. Fingerprinting can even look through a VPN connection by comparing your unique hardware, mouse-clicking habits, the way and speed you type, and more, to identify and track you.
7 They Know About Your DNA, And Your Family's DNA
Creepy by far, companies like 23andme.com use your DNA to identify and link you to genetic family members around the world. When you submit a DNA sample, you give these companies permission to collect, store, study, and share your genetic DNA sequence. Combine this with the massive amount of data you’ve already given them just by visiting their website and logging in with your Facebook or Google account, and this means they have every bit of information about you that can exist.
Imagine the implications of your data being sold or shared with pharmaceutical companies, insurance agencies, employers, police and government, political organizations, or even being exposed to distant family members who would prefer to remain distant.
Since this is your own personal DNA sequence, it’s just too dangerous to store it outside your own body.
None of the seven frightening ways websites are tracking even comes close to the risks and consequences of data hacks and the release of the private and confidential information of millions of web surfers to the world.
Your private data is just that … private. Take back control of your private data now!
Written by: Autumn McMahon
What do you think about websites tracking you?
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