You’re Not Paranoid, You Are Being Watched

Forbes has published a disturbing article that should make us all sit up and take notice.

Contributor Zach Doffman writes,

“If you are one of the more than 50% of adults who access online pornography, then new research led by Microsoft will make for seriously uncomfortable reading—you are likely being tracked across almost all the sites you use. And if you use private browsing to protect yourself, it doesn’t work. The tech giants know who you are, and they know where you’ve been.

While we were all worrying (unnecessarily) whether Russia was using the viral FaceApp craze to collect private data on millions of people around the world, a paper from researchers at Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon and Pennsylvania universities reported that Facebook and Google were doing exactly that. Yet again.

And while FaceApp was only ever accused (wrongly) of accessing photo galleries and user names, the nature of this latest social media exposure goes further, into the darkest recesses of the internet, because “analysis of 22,484 pornography websites,” the researchers say in their report, “indicated that 93% leak user data to a third party.”

Researchers found that Google and its ecosystem was tracking almost 75% of the porn sites, Oracle almost 25% and Facebook a still eye-watering 10%.

Let’s remember the sheer scale of traffic and usage here. Market-leader Pornhub claimed nearly 30 billion visits in 2017, with 50,000 searches per second. By some reckonings, porn-related traffic now accounts for almost one-third of all traffic, “more than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined,” and “YouPorn uses six times more bandwidth than Hulu.”

This means that if you’re visiting these sites, you are being watched and tracked.  The information that is being tracked and stored could be used to your detriment in the future.  The truly scary thing about this is that we know virtually nothing about the dark Web and even less about what these companies are doing with this information and how they are using it.

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