Over the past few days, I’ve looked at the extensions that we downloaded in class. The ones my group and I downloaded were Ghostly and Terms of Service Didn’t Read. It’s been interesting to see what websites track cookies, the response times, and how you can customize your protection from these websites for Ghostly. On Terms of Service Didn’t Read, it’s been interesting to see what websites keep user logs and for how long, if they use your identity in ads that are shown to other users, if they collect, use, and share location data, if they allow tracking via third-party cookies for purposes including targeted advertising, if they ignore the “Do Not Track” header and track anyway, and if they have a no refund policy. One of the websites I found interesting to test this on was LinkedIn. I’ve started using LinkedIn quite often this semester because it’s a big part of my “Career Development” course, which will help me attain an internship this upcoming summer. On LinkedIn you upload professional information about yourself, which can be skeptical in wondering if the website would use your identity in ads, if they shared location data, or if they ignored the “Do Not Track” header. Fortunately they don’t, which makes me feel more secure about putting some personal information and business and professional information on the internet. While this website was not skeptical according to the Terms of Service Didn’t Read extension, other sites were such as YouTube. The extension pops up with a “Class D” rating which means that the “terms of service are very uneven or there are some important issues that need your attention” such as the terms may change at any time of the website creator and CEO’s discretion without notice to users. Even though users may not explicitly accept the changes or even notice the changes, they are “accepting” the changes in terms due to this.
Two websites I might use for WP 3 are Twitter and Instagram. I find these interesting because their “Terms of Service Didn’t Read” appear similar to YouTube, and I think it’d be interesting to see how their interfaces and html makeup affect users and how we search the internet today. I also think it’d be interesting to use these because they are so popular and highly used in today’s society, regardless of a score they receive from one third-party extension.
This exercise of using extensions to track website activity has taught me that there is more than just one purpose to a website other than for users’ entertainment. There can be purposes of tracking users’ locations and using that for advertisements, tracking users’ cookies and using that to bring up advertisements for websites they were just looking at and attempt to draw them back to it, or just if they are able to process personal information and what they would actually do with it. It’s interesting and almost eerie to see what websites do with your personal information other than just IP addresses, but relieving to know that not every website on the internet could be dangerous or put you in harm’s way.