There’s been much talk about privacy with Facebook, Google and other social media sites and online services like Google that store your information online for your convenience. But is it really serving you to your benefit? I’ve read many articles on this topic and have a few personal stories/examples that I can share with you that caused me to look into this Facebook further.
Just yesterday I was logged into Facebook and clicked on an ad I saw off to the side. I looked at the website but didn’t give them my email address. The next day, I get an email newsletter from them. All of a sudden I’m on their mailing list without giving them my email address? How did this happen? Well, one explanation for that is very clear and has been investigated by others in the past and proven. The issue is when you are logged into Facebook, they have your email address because that is how you are logged in. If you click on an ad, they can trace you back to your Facebook account so they know where the referral came from. Fair enough if they want to know Facebook referred the link to their site, but for them to get our email address and automatically put me on their mailing list is an invasion of privacy and against the law. If you look up Facebook privacy issues, you’ll find many articles on this topic. What I have to recommend is do not click on ads from within your Facebook account. If you see an interesting ad, write down the link to that website, if it shows the link, then open a new browser session and type in that website address directly. The difference here is if you click the link, they get your email address and whatever else they want to get access to via Facebook because you already agreed to provide access to all your information wether you remember or not. If you type in the address into your browser, they don’t know where you found their website from and so they can’t trace you back to your Facebook account.
Here’s another story, even more scary I think. I had my previous blog on blogger.com as some of you may remember who have been following me here. blogger.com is owned by Google. Surprise, surprise! Well, Google already ticked me off with screwing up my business listing, so I wrote about it in my blog, not long after, my blog account got suspended. Maybe it’s a co-incidence, maybe not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Google has a trigger if someone writes bad about them on their own blog, they’ll shut it down since blogger.com is their own website. Well, that’s why I created this new blog using WordPress. I own it and Google can’t shut it down, and neither can anyone else. I can say anything I want and no one can take this site down. Although a good enough hacker/cracker could take down this blog, so for you skilled hackers, there’s no need to prove yourself, I know it can be hacked, but my point is a large corporation like Google doesn’t have any say over what I write anymore. haha!
If you use any of Google’s online services, and you do a Google search, you’ll see your email address in the top right corner of the webpage. So this means Google knows who you are currently, and they know what you are looking for. Now they can provide you with suggested websites based on your previous searches, which is one of the new features built into IE8. This is another invasion of privacy, but maybe not if we leave the feature turned on. Either way, my point here is to show how easily Google already can gain access to our browsing habits, and they can use our information how they like, if they want to. Law or no law. But even if Google is doing everything legal, who’s to say someone won’t design their website to not only learn that the referal link to their website came from a Google search, but they could see it came from a Google search while you were logged in with your Google account, and they can capture your email address and start spamming you. Similar to what I mentioned earlier with Facebook.
My closing remarks would have to be, stay logged out of Facebook, Google and any other web based service unless you need to go into it. When you’re surfing Google, stay logged out of Google. When in Facebook, never click on an ad unless you want on their mailing list.