Online privacy has become a hot button issue these past few years. With Facebook getting in trouble for what is shared, Google's issues with their data collection and more. Most recently, the controversy with the NSA took something that was already an issue and put it under a rather bright spotlight.
This has a lot of people getting worried about their privacy online and just how much is known about them?
Today we will go over just what marketing companies know about you, how it is used and some ways you can help protect your privacy (if you choose to.)
Why is the data collected and what is it used for?
The amount of data that is collected and used by marketing companies can be frightening when looked at in a certain light. It's your private details and can even be embarrassing!
Let's use your IP address as an example. Your IP address is recorded by most marketing companies as soon as you visit one of their websites. It is then associated with a time of day, a location, which website you came from, language and more.
While it's possible to know where each IP came from and how they interacted with a marketers website, chances are that marketer doesn't care about that IP. They are more focused on generalities.
What's valuable to a marketer is knowing that 70% of their sales are coming from downtown Toronto or that people tend to make purchases around 7pm. They can use this data to help improve the functionality of the site. They can find if people are getting stuck on a certain page or are being turned off by a specific image. They can even find if people tend to make purchases in the evenings because they are home from work, or the opposite.
Digging down into people's personal information isn't really useful in any way. Seeing that one person entered the site from a specific forum doesn't help much, but seeing that 40% of the people who purchase the product all came from Facebook is.
Marketers will argue that website visitor information helps provide a better user experience. This type of visitor data also helps marketers present relevant information to you in the future. For instance, if you were reading about a particular product the next time you visit the website might show you more relevant information about that same product or something similar you may be interested in.
However, if you do not want to disclose this information and have a more generic user experience here are some ways to protect your privacy.
– 1. Add-ons/Extensions
If you would like to protect your privacy there are a few things you can do. These aren't perfect but can certainly help.
If you use Firefox or Chrome as your main web browser there are add-ons and extensions out there whose sole purpose is to protect your privacy. Some of the more popular ways to do so include Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere and NoScript.
– 2. Social Networks
Make sure to check the privacy settings of your social networks to see exactly what you are sharing. Look for things such as location settings. Did you know Facebook shares your location when you post from the phone app?
– 3. Wifi
Make sure that your Wifi is protected with a password. Not only protected but done so with what's called WPA encryption. This type of encryption has yet to be broken by even the best hackers in the world.
What are your thoughts on online privacy? Comment below!