5 Top Places that Track You Online
You may not like it, but when you are online you are tracked. Your location, the sites that you visit, the links that you click on and more, are all bits of information that can be accessed by online trackers to develop your browsing history, and online identity. Advertisers are particularly interested in your browsing history as they can create a profile of you which they can use to pinpoint their ads.
There really is little chance of escaping this online tracking, unless you download a safe and reliable personal VPN, as this will ensure you are safe online by encrypting your data, and personal information. If you do not use a VPN, or other method of tracking prevention, then when you check your emails, browse through social media feeds or just surf the web, you are likely to get tracked at least somewhere along the way.
Here are 5 of the top places that you are being tracked when you are online:
- Search engines
Although search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing are brilliant for helping us to find what we are looking for when we are online; they are also notorious for tracking us and our online activity. Search engines use our browsing history to individualize the adverts we are shown, and to help businesses get to grips with what we are looking for, and how we look for it when we are online. Search engines are becoming better and better at building our online profiles, and although it can help to reduce the amount of irrelevant information in the search results we are shown, it may also be affecting our online privacy and safety.
IP addresses tell websites where we are, and cookies, which are bits of information that are used by websites to store information about our browsing history can both revel information about us. The websites that we visit most can store cookies, and even pass information on to other websites to tailor the information, and adverts that we are shown. If you have ever agreed to ‘Login with Facebook’, then you have allowed information to be passed on to the site from Facebook that makes the account creation process easier for you, but also enables the site you are logging into get access to your social media information.
- Downloaded apps
Social media sites can use the apps that we have on our phones to provide them with information about us, and our hobbies. Apps can also use our phone’s GPS technology to track our location, which can then be relayed to social media sites, and other websites online. The tedious app permissions that may seem unimportant are actually key to keeping you and your information safe when online.
You might have thought that you were safe from trackers when checking your personal emails, but you’d have thought wrong. For example, the free email services that so many of us use and rely on also use tracking methods to tailor the adverts that they show us. By checking, opening and sending emails we may also be enabling companies (an also marketers, advertisers, and even fraudsters) to track us online because clicking on an email relays information about us to the sender. For example, by clicking on the email, the sender will be able to find out what device we used to access our emails, and where we were when we opened the email in question.
- Social media accounts
Advertisers love to track you when scrolling through social media accounts because the pages that we visit, the accounts that we like and the links that we click on are all bits of information that the advertisers can use to develop a detailed profile of our online habits. Advertisers can then use this profile to pinpoint their advertising campaigns. Facebook is a particularly big dog in this tracking area as they take our social media browsing history and pass it onto advertisers, who can then target adverts to suit our interests, hobbies and such like. Even Instagram is in on the act as the app has developed a way of geotagging the images that users post which enables advertisers to know where we are, as well as what posts we are liking.