Who’s watching when you think nobody is?
We’ve all experienced that feeling of thinking we’re being watched. Whether it’s by the creepy guy standing beside you on the subway, or that one girl in lecture who you constantly make eye contact with.
Your first thought is always,
“What is their agenda ? What do they want from me?”
BUT why is it that we never get this same feeling while using the Internet? What is it about a screen that makes us feel as though what we do or what we look at is private ?
we couldn’t be more wrong.
Third-Party Websites: On almost every website you visit, there are connections to ‘third-party websites’ which piggyback on these sites to gain access to your personal cookies.
No, not physical cookies. Digital Cookies.
According to Webopedia , digital cookies are “A message given to a web browser by a web server. The browser stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.” More simply put, this means information is gathered about you to improve your internet experience.
This seems safe enough and possibly even a positive thing. However, when you unknowingly connect to third-party websites through another site, they are able to create a digital portrait of who you are. So, how often are these sites monitoring us ?
I put this to the test, by downloading LightBeam for Firefox, and browsing the web for approximately 20 minutes. The following are my findings.
I was absolutely shocked to find that I had come in to contact with 156 third-party sites, when I had only actually visited 11 sites.
I needed to know more !
I focused my research on CNN , and worked my way through what third-party sites had access to me while I was on this site. I discovered that 51 sites had connected to me, so it goes back to my first question. “What do they want from me?”
On this particular website, a lot of the third-party sites were actually performance platforms or sites that were intended to improve my experience.
This list goes on and on, but the message is clear. These third-party sites are using MY cookies as a way to identity what I should be marketed. This is why when I’m scrolling through Facebook I’m advertised offers for 50% off gyros. They have realized that I’m a foodie and have used this to their advantage to make a profit.
To them, we are just another way to make money.
LightBeam is here to blow their cover.