Big Brother is Watching

Hello everyone! I will be making two posts today. The first one is on security and educating people about the Internet. Have you ever wondered what was up with the ads online that seem to know you very well? Well they do! Ads are generated based on search history, both directly and indirectly, what you watch online, etc. What I mean by directly and indirectly is that ads can be generated in different ways. Directly means that you directly search something and an ad is generated. An example of this is pornography. If you search up some porn, chances are it’ll leave sexual/dating ads in its place. Indirectly means that ads assume your demographic profile. G is a 22-year-old male. His browsing activity reflects that: he likes sports, movies, gore, violence, etc. Sometimes he gets ads on websites that are either pornographic or dating related. He hasn’t looked up anything directly porn related in a long time, but Google assumes he’s a young man and correlates his advertisements this way.

Isn’t that scary how the Internet learns about you and correlates things to your gender, age and personality? It is done through search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, and through browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Explorer. All search engines and browsers do this, but Google is the main culprit. Your information is sold by your browser and search engine to companies. That’s why you get phone calls a lot from random numbers, and why ads seem to perfectly fit you. I remember when I had Facebook and I’d see ads for shirts with my last name on it. It’s based on who I have as friends, my last name, and what I look up.

Unfortunately there aren’t many ways to avoid being tracked online, but you can minimize the tracking. I try to switch between emails and signing out in order to prevent my activity from being tracked on one account. I also try to monitor what I’m searching and making sure it’s not something inappropriate. Porn sites and dating sites have some of the worst viruses, malware and trackers out there. Trying to stay away from inappropriate websites is key, too. Looking to make sure a website is certified helps as well. Usually there is some sort of action that indicates a website is secure based on the browser: I know Chrome makes the website bar green if it’s secure, and Safari displays a little key if it’s a secure website.

Making sure you log out of shared computers is important, as well. If you go to a library or use a friend’s laptop, sign out when you’re done. Sometimes they may use your account by accident and if they are doing inappropriate things it can be linked to your account. 

This is a short post, but it’s one for awareness. 


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