Before every tweet, do you think about how it could come back and haunt you later? There are platforms that some sites use to track your every move. This data is gathered over time to help the site cater better to you.
Have you ever Googled something and then logged into Amazon later to see the product you searched for was on your suggested list? It’s kind of a scary thought when you think about it, but I guess maybe you will think again before looking up another item.
How is this information gathered? Back in the day, your PCs ‘cookies’ setting was the best way to track you. It would record your IP address and keep a data map of sites you visited. While the original use for ‘cookies’ tracking was fairly simple, it has become more complex with sites showing a growing desire to learn more about consumers and web surfers.
The term ‘Big Data’ represents a large volume of data that, when analyzed, reveals patterns, trends, and associations related to a specific user. An example of big data is this:
I love checking out food blogs. Well, I love food and blogs, so the two of them together is like a dream come true for me. Since I am constantly searching for new blogs to check out, mainly because I’ve exhausted the material on every other blog I’ve seen, my computer is storing the data from the sites I am visiting.
Whenever I am searching for restaurants to go to when traveling, my computer knows what kind of food I like best. By using the information it has gathered from my blog searches and site visits, it has come to the (oh so correct) conclusion that I will most likely be in the mood for Thai food.
With advances in technology and the capabilities of devices to “speak” to each other through the network they’re connected to, theses results are also shared with your smartphone, tablet, and basically any other gadget that can connect to the web.
What Sites Use Information to Track Us?
Twitter, for example, uses analytics to receive data on other domains you interact with and uses that information to post ads or suggest accounts for you to follow. Do you order pizza a lot? If so, you can expect Twitter to post any ads relating to pizza places, as well as accounts for you to follow from various pizza places.
In some cases, Twitter even uses your location to find places specific to your area.
Should you be worried?
Sometimes, though, your information can be used to steal your identity or hack into any online accounts you may have. For these reasons, it is very important to read sites’ agreements and policies before using their services.