A lot of people has been saying about privacy and the internet in social media, especially Facebook and G+. There were many cases in which profile pictures of users has been used for creating fake profiles and many such things. This happens because of user’s carelessness or simply user’s fault. But there exist many more ways to collect information about the users.
We shall go into the details of loading a webpage. When you visit a website, it requests the required HTML elements and the output will be rendered as a webpage. This resulting page may contain many external references. So while loading a particular webpage, you will be loading some external contents also. This is a very normal activity and there is nothing to be scared of in this.
The problem arises when the external requests are used for tracking the users. You might be thinking of its possibilities. I suppose all are involved in almost all social networks. Let’s take the case of Facebook. You might have noticed the like button of Facebook in most websites or pages. When you click the like button, Facebook recognizes you and record the like. This is because Facebook stores some information as cookies that will help Facebook to identify you. So while you browse across a site having reference to Facebook with like or recommend buttons, Facebook knows you are visiting the site.
The technique behind this is that each like buttons acts as external references to Facebook. As Facebook has already placed a cookie inside your browser, it will get a request with the referring site as the website you visited and it can identify the visitor as you, from the cookie data of Facebook. So in short Facebook can track any users visit to any website provided the website has a link of reference to Facebook
Next time when you visit any site with some pretty rates of traffic, you can notice that it will be having a couple of tracking agents installed in it. You can figure that a large portion of this tracking is leading to some advertisement companies. You can probably guess who will be the end consumers of all these data.
The question of why this much tracking might flash in your mind. The answer is simply money. It’s not about the ads, But about user profiles. Think about a time when you wait in a bank asking for a loan and you can only get the loan only if your ‘profile’ matches the criteria for granting loan stated on a computer. If things go as per planned, There might be a time in near future when all companies have access to mega-profiles, where data of all users are available… and then the decision has to be made by a computer….!!