The accessibility that the online world offers is vast and provides tons of information in a matter of milliseconds. With this access, it is important to consider the backend of these sites and the potential ways individual’s privacy may be at risk. While exploring the internet this weekend, I utilized a few of the browser extensions that were introduced in class: Ghostery, DuckDuckGo, and Terms of Service Didn’t Read. As I’ve been brainstorming for WP3, I decided that LuluLemon and LinkedIn would be two interesting sites to learn more about their design and further understand the analytic and advertising methods they use.
One website I continually visit is LuluLemon. I chose to look into the data provided by the extensions for this site as I continually get LuluLemon advertisements on many websites after I browse on their site. When looking at DuckDuckGo’s report, shop.lululemon.com scored a D with unknown privacy practices and 51 trackers found. Some trackers listed were Adobe for advertising and analytics, Google for advertising and analytics, Facebook for analytics, and Twitter for advertising. DuckDuckGo explains tracker network as “aggregating your web history into a data profile about you.” Further, these major tracker networks, such as those listed for shop.lululemon.com, are very dangerous as they have the potential to target my interests and track my searchers on many websites and develop an analytics profile for my internet usage. When looking at the Ghostery’s report, the page loaded in 1.65 seconds and there were a total of 18 trackers found and requests modified: 6 trackers fell under the advertising category, 1 in audio/vide player, 2 essential’s, 6 site analytic’s, and 1 social media tracker. Although I was aware of it tracking my clicks, I honestly was surprised by the amount of different analytic and advertisement tracking software’s found through this site. This has opened my eyes to the backend of the internet and how easily companies can gather information and profile their viewers.
I also looked at LinkedIN as I am often looking on this site for jobs or networking opportunities. I was curious how secure this site is as users create accounts and share lots of personal information. According to the extension Ghostery, there were a total of 10 trackers found and requests modified. DuckDuckGo scored this site a D with 72 trackers found and unknown privacy policies. For this site, I also applied the Terms of Service Didn’t Read extension as the other extensions were not providing lots of information. Here are some negatives and warnings about LinkedIN that this extension found….
- keeps user logs for an undefined period of time
- identity is used in ads that are shown to other users
- may collect, use, and share location data
- allows tracking via third-party cookies for purposes including targeted advertising
- ignores the Do Not Track (DNT) header and tracks users anyway even if they set this header
- use tracking pixels, web beacons, browser fingerprinting, and/or device fingerprinting on users
- can sell or otherwise transfer your personal data as part of a bankruptcy proceeding or other type of financial transaction
- can delete specific content without prior notice and without a reason
- can use your content for all their existing and future services
- uses your personal information for many different purposes
- holds onto content that you’ve delete
A couple benefits found…
- you can delete your content from this service
- this service provides a way for you to export your data
Clearly, there are a lot of red flags and potential issues with this service. As a member of LinkedIN, I was not aware of all of these terms and the analytic trackers that have been monitoring my use.
I was previously familiar with some of the way’s companies can gather information on individuals through their social platforms, but the readings, class discussions, and this blog research has further opened my eyes to the countless ways my information may be exposed without my permission or knowledge of it. For my summer internship, it was my responsibility to gather data and report on the company’s analytics for all social platforms. Through studying each marketing effort and its respected reach, engagements, post clicks, and reactions/comments/shares, it broadened my knowledge of the way’s companies utilize their platforms and target their intended audience. For Facebook, I was granted access to the backend and was able to explore all the ways that a company could boost their page or content in order to increase the number of individuals that are exposed to the given post. This was alerting as I’ve never focused on or looked into why I’m receiving multiple, similar ads or why the ads I am receiving directly target me as an individual. As I usually don’t pay much attention to these requests, I mindlessly provide online sites with access to my information and my search tendencies by accepting yes to terms and conditions, location access or cookies pop-up without any extra thought as they are in the way of me accessing certain websites.