The MONSTER in your COOKIE JAR

Words Words Words

I am very wary of most websites. They set cookies, they skim personal data, exploit privacy policy, and what not. We have discussed this endlessly during our ‘mediated communication’ classes and more recently in my ‘critiquing marketing communication’ class.

Today, navigating in the digital world implies you are creating a virtual self by your cookie trails. We surf the internet, hoping from one website to the next and it is observing and tracking our every movement. We read about the big data of everything and how it helps us predict pattern and trends … little do we know, all this bobs and bits of data it gathers about you means it is creating a big of data of “you”

I have installed adware, keep cleaning my cookies, disable passwords, keep checking the privacy setting of Google and what ever other measures I can take to keep the ‘digital information grabbers’ out of my browser. But here is the catch, they make it difficult for you to navigate their website when you do this.

I was trying to browse ‘Bed Bath and Beyond’ website via ‘Chrome’ browser today and the product images refused to load. The loading icon kept circling for minutes and the website did not load at all.  The images did not display well after five minutes had elapsed. I was on to it … I suspected that the ‘Adblock Plus App’ (Yellow highlight in below pic) that is installed as a browser plugin was preventing the images from loading. A clear indication that it has to do something with tracking, cookies or whatever ‘marketing activity’ they have programmed the website for.

Bed Bath and Beyond

In the above pic, you can see ‘adblock’ icon is red in color which means it is enabled. The grey icon below indicates that I have disabled the app and that implies the website has the liberty to track my navigational movements. The second I turned it off and refreshed the page, everything loaded instantly!

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So I put it to the next test, I opened it on Firefox where I have installed ‘Lightbeam App’ that enables an internet user to track the tracker! I reset the counter and then opened the same Bed, Bath and Beyond Link and here is what turned up in my Ligthbeam report! 23 Third Party Websites were tracking my data when I visited this one webpage! You can see the B icon in the center and surrounding it are other icons such as Facebook, Google and many more who were ‘infromation thirsty’ and trying to profile what you will buy next!

Lightbeam

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In today’s digital world, consumers are in a catch-22 situation; if we opt-out, we are left behind, if we opt-in, we compromise our privacy and are subject to be data probing!

I don’t care that they are tracking information because I have apps to ensure that they can be blocked, but it downright unfair that they mess up the website’s user experience on purpose because of disabled ads. I got so miffed that instead of browsing the website with ads enabled, I decided I will by the product in some other website that does not con its consumer into selling out their ‘personal online data.’

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