to think the internet is spying on me!

(44 Posts)
frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 09:16:57

I recently went on holiday, and ever since looking up the destination, researching it and booking it through their website, and a large proportion of adverts I seem to find on any website (including mumsnet) has been an advert for where I just went on holiday!

On getting back I started hypothetically researching what a holiday to another destination would cost. Now all the adverts that pop up are for this other destination! Just a coincidence, or is the internet actually spying on me?

daisychain01 Wed 07-Aug-13 13:57:10

They say that if something sounds too good to be true, then it is - so all these social media sites that everyone enjoys: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, they are all free - the trade-off being that they want your data, that's their business model. They sell advertising and they need us as their cannon fodder, to be bombarded with stuff we haven't asked for. Some people say its a price they are prepared to pay - losing their privacy, for the ability to have the freeby's like Facebook etc.

And of course we know it isn't the Internet itself that is 'spying', its each individual website with its different settings that provide companies with the ability to know our purchasing and browsing habits. The more reputable the company, the more open and transparent they are so that we can make decisions.

The lower you set your security levels on your browser, the less convenience you have, but the more you will be keeping your privacy if that is important to you. Disabling cookies means your web browser won't remember/autopopulate certain fields, eg Amazon, Facebook, etc. but at least you have increased security level, the less is known about your shopping habits. Cookies also gives info to those dudes who are employed to analyse traffic onto their website so they know all about you. And you rarely know if they create a massive database download and sell on your data to other organisations - they make the opt in / opt out boxes as confusing as possible - either tick here NOT to have your data shared (opt out) or tick here TO have your data shared (opt in). They rely on confusing people to get hold of your valuable data!

I remember being spooked out by adverts on a side-bar on Facebook which seemed so targeted they knew how old I was ... how did that happen? Ah yes, Facebook used the year of birth info in my profile. I soon stopped that by deleting my YYYY and just having DD / MM on my date of birth field. But there are sooo many different ways they use data, its impossible to control all of it.

The Internet of Tim Berners-Lee's vision, as an open sharing global community has become increasingly complex - with data privacy legislation varying from country to country, with people becoming less naive and demanding greater transparency about dangers and pitfalls.

NicholasTeakozy Wed 07-Aug-13 14:23:10

There's a natty addon for Firefox and Chrome (not sure if there's one for Safari) called Ghostery, which detects and blocks tracking cookies.

frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 14:27:05

They say that if something sounds too good to be true, then it is - so all these social media sites that everyone enjoys: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, they are all free - the trade-off being that they want your data, that's their business model. They sell advertising and they need us as their cannon fodder, to be bombarded with stuff we haven't asked for. Some people say its a price they are prepared to pay - losing their privacy, for the ability to have the freeby's like Facebook etc.

I understand what you mean, but what what about individuals who have not signed up to these social media sites, and never use them?

e.g. I have not signed up to LinkedIn, and don't really use the website as many profile have very limited information when not logged in.

Today I reset my browser, deleting all history, and also removed all cookies. However, despite me not having used the LinkedIn website today and not having an account, they have installed cookies on my computer. I definitely did not give my consent for them to do this.

Another website must have added them.

For a short while this morning I set my browser to prompt me every time a web page tried to add a cookie - it got dull very quickly, but it did show who was trying to add what.

I also, after Annabelle's suggestion earlier, changed my settings so that websites can add first party cookies (ie their own ones) but not third party ones (for other organisations) So now, MN has added 2 cookies for their own purposes, but none of the others.

You could have a look at your own settings and see what options you have, to work out who is putting these kinds of cookies on.

(Waits for thread to be deleted....)

frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 14:35:33

I also, after Annabelle's suggestion earlier, changed my settings so that websites can add first party cookies (ie their own ones) but not third party ones (for other organisations) So now, MN has added 2 cookies for their own purposes, but none of the others.

You could have a look at your own settings and see what options you have, to work out who is putting these kinds of cookies on.

I did do this, as I posted in my earlier post at 12:12:

My browser (safari) has a block cookies from third parties and advertisers, and an ask websites not to track me option. Both are selected, apparently they don't work very well!

So enabling these settings is clearly ineffective. If they worked I wouldn't have cookies on my computer from random websites and companies. Not really sure what to do about it, except maybe try another browser e.g. chrome and see if it is more secure.

Hmm, that does sound like they're not very useful then!

frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 15:05:42

Hmm, that does sound like they're not very useful then!

Apparently not!

AnnabelleLee and AMumInScotland, you seem to be having more success than I am, which browser are you using and what settings?

I'm on IE7, on there it is in Internet Options - Privacy - Advanced
and you can pick from Accept, Block, or Prompt for each of First Party and Third Party.

frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 15:24:29

I'm on IE7, on there it is in Internet Options - Privacy - Advanced and you can pick from Accept, Block, or Prompt for each of First Party and Third Party.

Ah, I'm on a Mac, so can't get IE.

ratspeaker Wed 07-Aug-13 15:43:00

Why not just clear your cookies?
I do several times a day.
In chrome click on the 3 bars up on the right, select history, check the boxes you want cleared,
In firefox click on history, clear history , check the boxes, clear now

theres a free programme called cccleaner which also works well,just run it when you want rid of cookies, cache etc

flatpackhamster Wed 07-Aug-13 18:27:59

AMumInScotland

^I'm on IE7, on there it is in Internet Options - Privacy - Advanced
and you can pick from Accept, Block, or Prompt for each of First Party and Third Party.^

You really need to update your browser. IE7? That's like having unprotected sex with the entire internet.

frogspoon

Ah, I'm on a Mac, so can't get IE.

Don't Mozilla make Firefox for the Mac?

frogspoon Wed 07-Aug-13 18:56:14

Don't Mozilla make Firefox for the Mac?

They do, but I've found it slower than Safari. Might have better privacy setting though.

I know what you mean, we are in the process of emigrating and suddenly, all the adverts are for emigration agents, removals, currency exchange etc. mind you all my Facebook adverts are for weightloss and I've not been searching for that so they must be looking at me!!!

cozietoesie Wed 07-Aug-13 19:36:08

If you're having problems with automatic removal, just get a (free) spyware/malware removal package. Not resource hungry so you can run it a couple of times a week in the background without difficulty - and it will zap trojans etc if you're lightly infected.

sydlexic Wed 07-Aug-13 19:36:18

I had a look at places to visit on holiday, adverts popped up on MN for those places. I went out and when I got back the ad was for online dating, should I be worried?

cozietoesie Wed 07-Aug-13 19:38:18

Not necessarily. grin Sites for 'hot' cars also load you with porn links - it just depends on the buying links the sellers have established.

llittleyello Thu 08-Aug-13 08:55:26

ha this new interweb cookies/advertising development has been a shock in terms of what I see reflected back at me:

e.g. this morning, extra wide hush puppy shoes and 90 denier tights ...

really need to sharpen up my image-two adverts have been a good wake up call :-)

cozietoesie Thu 08-Aug-13 08:56:29

grin

zipzap Thu 08-Aug-13 09:49:45

And of course if you're on a shared device it means you get to see what else has been searched for on it by dint of all the targeted ads that get served up to you...

So most of the time its not an issue. But it can be, from annoying if your dh figures out that you're planning on getting him golf clubs for his birthday or Christmas - but potentially horrendous if you are a victim of domestic abuse and have been researching divorce solicitors, women's aid, refuges etc where the ads for these would tip off your abusive husband. or a teenage dd that is worried she might be pregnant could inadvertently reveal it to her parents before she is ready to if they spot ads for pregnancy tests.

Those are only a couple of examples but you can imagine plenty more. And I think it's why sites like MN should in targeted areas make sure that those who might be vulnerable to being caught out like this can raise awareness that this can be a problem and then access a really simple set of instructions on what to do to help protect themselves.

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