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How come the ads you see look like your previous searches?

Ever wonder how come the ads you see on Facebook or Malaysiakini reflect the searches you just recently made. Ever felt freaked out about it, there really is nothing to freak out about, unless of course you’re worried that a Multi-Billion dollar company may be keeping information about your searches and sharing them with ad sites that build profiles to uniquely identify you. Or that your personal search isn’t really private data, yet it can reveal very private details about yourself including your religious beliefs, sexual inclinations, medical conditions and even credit rating.

This is a blog about technology, but as of late it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus only on technology without looking into copyright, censorship and privacy. I can’t blog about technology while ignoring these aspects, anymore than financial analyst you look at Apple ignore the technology around their products.

So this is a great infographic on how the Ads you see on Facebook or anywhere else for that matter, reflect the searches you made and how you can prevent your private data being shared to Ad Sites.

The gist of is this, when you do a Google Search and Click a link, Google shares the search information with the site you just visited, the site uses this information for analytics purposes, but the site can then also share this with the ads on the site. So for instance if you searched Anwar Ibrahim, and clicked on link to Malaysiakini, Google will share your search term together with your browser and location information with Malaysiakini. This means Malaysiakini will know you came to it from Google via a search for Anwar Ibrahim and together with your location and IP address it makes it almost too easy to identify you in the future.

That’s not the end, news sites usually have 3rd-party ads. The ad companies start building profiles about you, and how you searched for Anwar Ibrahim and clicked on a Malaysiakini website. This information is just one data point, from just one search. Your other searches like maybe checking out a new car, or finding a new smart phone is all compiled and kept by the ad companies to send you targetted ads.

However, this also means that somewhere Ad companies may have information about your political affliations, your preference of cars and smartphone, and combined with sophisticated analyzing tools may be able to determine everything from your medical conditions to your annual income. SCARY!

What’s even more scary, is that the Ad companies are not obliged to keep this information private and secret, but can sell it on to other companies looking to send you targeted ads, and if you’re uncomfortable…well too bad!

It’s scary, because if you have a medical condition that you don’t want anyone to know about but search for information online (who doesn’t search for information online), you could be broadcasting out very private information to the world.

Reminds of the time, a supermarket found out a girl was pregnant before her father.

Visit this site, for more information http://donttrack.us/, the bottomof the site has information on how you can prevent your private search data from being shared. You can also start using alternative search engines that prioritize privacy.

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  1. Pingback: Privacy Concerns while browsing in Malaysia

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