Web tracking is the activity and ability of a website to keep tabs on website visitors.
As we might expect, Web tracking is meant to improve our experience online with that website – much in the same way that television commercials are intended to improve our life when we watch TV. Plus, TV commercials pay for the TV shows that are on. We understand that.
But how many of us really like television commercials? And how would we like it if we knew that those TV advertisers were without our permission somehow tracking what commercials we were watching on what shows? Or when we switched channels, bought something or when we called a phone number because the commercial told us to “call now”? We wouldn’t like that at all.
And that’s pretty much what Web trackers do. They keep tabs on our Internet activity. They may know your name, if you have opened an account online, or they may not know your name but simply know your interests. Many of these Web-tracking websites will share information with other websites, in order to build a fuller, or more accurate, profile of us, Mr., Ms. or Mrs. Consumer. And without going into a great amount of detail, that’s all we need to know.
How we are tracked
And all this happens without our knowing a thing about it. It happens totally in the background, behind the scenes, and without our knowledge or approval. Between all our favorite websites, thousands of advertisers and online tracking companies, there’s bound to be a handful of groups that want to know what we are doing.
The Web browser Firefox released a new feature called Lightbeam that gives us a glimpse of who it is that’s tracking us when we are online, if we use the Firefox browser, that is. It lets us follow the tracking activity for our online behavior, and it will give us a clear visual idea of what’s going on with our personal Web activity. More than that, it will open our eyes to what’s going on every time we go online.
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