Six Clicks: How sites secretly collect your data – and how to stop it

Six Clicks: How sites secretly collect your data – and how to stop it

Summary: Have you ever wondered how social networking sites seem to know so much about you and your preferences? We take the lid off how these sites gather data about your activities.


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  • Social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn collect a lot of data about you that they use to share with advertisers to deluge you more targeted ads. It's not hopeless. Here are things you can do to stop it.

    Here's what is going on behind the scenes every time you use a social media site from your PC or your mobile device.

    Previously on Six Clicks

    Six Clicks: Can your browser do these tricks

    Six Clicks: Social sites and their image stains

    Six Clicks: How do you keep track of all your passwords?

    Six clicks: Simple and time-saving Google search tricks

    Six clicks: Gadgets to let you do more with your tablet

    Image: Social Munch


  • OAuth

    OAuth is the Open standard for Authentication. OAuth makes it easy to log in to one site using the credentials supplied by one of the other social networking sites. It uses access tokens to give server authorization to third party clients with the permission of the end user.

    But beware.

    Giving authority to a site such as Pinterest the ability to use your Facebook, Google or Twitter login gives Pinterest the ability to data mine all of the information you have given to the other site. Pinterest does not need to collect any information from you. it already has this from Facebook or Twitter.

    Pinterest will then suggest connections for you to follow on Pinterest based on your Facebook friends and the pages you follow.

    Go through your Facebook settings — and your Twitter settings and revoke access to sites and apps you no longer use.

    Image: Pinterest




Topics: Privacy, Big Data, Social Enterprise

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  • most are a "so what"...

    "you can opt out from receiving interest based..."

    Of course, that too is tracking information...

    "..uncheck the check box for data sharing with third-party applications"

    Which does nothing for second party applications that broker for third party applications...

    As the real tracking can still be done by the ads/ images coming from the same location or third party suppliers.

    No stopping that.
  • slide show...pass

  • OAuth

    The blogger says "OAuth is the Open standard for Authentication" in the second slide. This is wrong. OAuth is a delegated authorization standard. OAuth requires prior authentication (OAuth provides an authorization token, but one still needs an authentication token). Until recently, that was provided out of band using OpenID or SAML (or any other authentication mechanism). Now we've designed an authentication protocol for OAuth called OpenID Connect (not related to OpenID). OpenID Connect provides the needed authentication token for OAuth.
  • Eileen, you missed the biggest and most insiduous offender...

    viz., WhatsApp.

    Merely installing the app on your Smartphone sends out a broadcast to ALL contacts in your phonebook who have also installed WhatsApp, letting them know that you've installed the app!

    ALL your phone contacts get added by default when you first install WhatsApp - there is no way to selectively add only the ones you want. If you don't want some of your phonebook contacts to communicate with you via WhatsApp, you have to manually remove them from WhatsApp, one by one.

    I have 500+ contacts in my phonebook, and I wanted to use WhatsApp to communicate with only about 70 of them. When I realized I'd have to manually remove 430+ contacts, I decided to uninstall the app right away. Guess what - even after un-installing it, other users see me as if I'm still on WhatsApp.

    Terrible, isn't it?

    Absolutely! Terrible enough for FaceBook to have paid $18 billion to buy them out!
  • Blatantly false

    "Google reads every email sent and received to Gmail. Google also has direct access to every tweet sent and received. If you use Google docs either at work or for personal use, then Google will collect data about usage."

    This sounds like it was lifted from a circa-2012 Scroogled campaign ad. Google does not "read" emails. It has an automated system that scans them for keywords, similar to the systems used by every other email system on the planet. It's required for spam filtering. However, in free Gmail ONLY, it also uses those keywords to serve targeted ads.

    Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government do not use data for advertising purposes, so please do not spread that misinformation either.
    Robert Buchko
  • Non slideshow version?

    I would be pleased to read an article on this subject but will not take the time to click through a bunch of slides.
  • How sites secretly collect your data?

    Answer: By having you click through six different slides, when one page would have sufficed.