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Aren’t we all a little wary today, hesitating a little bit while giving our personal information when signing up for a social networking site? This scenario never quite existed few years ago. So what has changed? One aspect being Ads(Advertisements). We see ads all around us, almost as if it was tailor made of us, somehow they knew we were planning on buying that.
The reason being that the online activities are being tracked. Those websites probably monitor your activities 10 times closely than your parents do. Parents, well, we all know why they are always so curious about your activities online, but websites do that to exploit you. You may want to google around a bit to confirm these facts, you may even be surprised as to what you will find (if you are not techie/tech savvy, or whatever they call it these days).
Few years ago, ads and premium accounts were the only things website companies mostly relied on, where our personal information wasn’t required. But then social networking sites launched, one after another, people slowly shed all their inhibitions and started sharing information like their birth-date or age, gender, nationality, personal email, etc. which was still okay. But, the natural progression was, information such as relationship status and who we involved with, personal photos, contact numbers and so on. Blindly trusting that the website wouldn’t use those information for their own personal gains? And so, we enter today’s life where nothing about you is personal any more unless you have no online presence at all.
Reuters recently reported that WhatsApp, a smartphone application for instant-messaging though Internet violates privacy laws over phone numbers because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book, Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities said. And there are many other examples as well, many known companies do have suits filed against them for violation the privacy laws.
ReadWrite too, correctly states that, these websites are exploiting us in a way and making millions of dollars at the expense of our personal information. Personally, I am not against sharing information, but its about where and who I choose to share this information with. For instance, I don’t really need to share my contact number on Facebook, all my close friends have my number and those who don’t(in the friend-list) can of course message me online asking me about it. I think its high time we realize what information we need to share, more importantly, where and with whom.
There are plug-ins and extensions available which helps block any websites to pop-up ads(like AdBlock for Mozilla), or stop them to track your activities(like Ghostery for Mozilla). There are hundreds on such available if you search for it. You should also check the rating, reviews for the app as well its developer/author before downloading any, as some of these extensions themselves might be malicious.
Internet has grown tremendously over the past few years, the websites keeping our information know it. Websites can be broken into and information can be compromised. It time to be aware, alert and cautious. Its our data and information out there, which they store it with our consent, we have no one to blame, not even ourselves. We simply need to understand the right and the wrongs. Things are bad already, so lets not make it worse.