Do you know just how much the Internet behemoths know about you? Within their databases, your GPS location, recent purchases, music playlists, search history, photos, face recognition, and a slew of information about your devices provide a gigantic resource for both the Internet companies themselves and a plethora of advertising firms. No matter what device you are using, the World Wide Web is becoming increasingly targeted to the audience; there are different websites for different countries, states, and sometimes even cities. Advertisers may access your email to pick out keywords, then display ultra-relevant ads. For example, if Google sees that you are receiving emails about a flight to Russia, they may pick ads for you that focus on warm clothing, travel necessities, or tours in Russia. As if this were not enough, Google takes tracking to a whole new level with Google Now. Google Now learns your routines and schedules, then presents relevant information about your life to you when it thinks that you need it. For instance, when you open your phone at 6 p.m., it may bring up the restaurants in your area; at 7 a.m., it could bring up the latest traffic information.
Though this invasion of privacy may be necessary for some technological advances, it’s important for people to understand what information they’re sharing with Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others. Many companies now allow you to turn off targeted ads and prevent cookies (tracking files) from loading, and some websites are even equipped to work with browsers’ new “Do Not Track” feature. Whether you choose to protect your information or not, just remember one thing: your data is never actually private. Don’t say anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say in person, because it never goes away.
Photo Source: wsj.com
By Dean Papastrat, Online/Tech Editor ’14