Do you think it is super creepy when you computer seems to know what you’ve been up to? Let’s say your 4th grader is doing a book report on, say, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, He spends a few hours Googling using keywords relating to the mission. Next time you use the computer to buy something, you see in the checkout recommendations on books relating to the mission! How did that happen? Then you notice about a bazillion ads for wrinkle cream popping up. . . . how did the computer know you are a middle-aged woman?
Turns out it’s cookies: digital tracking beacons fed to your browser by websites you visit. These cookies allow a company you never heard of to keep track of you and market to you.
No, you never signed up giving permission to be tracked. Who would? But to get it to stop, you have to opt out.
About a month ago, I figured out how to opt out–it is super simple–and magically, the creepy Big-Brother marketing stopped! What a relief.
Today’s LA Times article “Ad Companies Have Their Hands, or Cookies, in Your Browser,” gives a great overview on how these cookies work and how to get rid of them. The article recommended checking back periodically to make sure your opt out is up to date
I went back to the opt-out site today, and sure enough, I found a few more ad networks I needed to opt out of. A few clicks and I turned off all those nasty behavioral tracking cookies again.
Seems silly we have to opt out rather than opt in. But it is easy to do. I recommend it.
Bad enough that all the retail stores now have loyalty cards that track everything we buy, and Facebook keeps track of God-only-knows what about us. We don’t need Big Browser giving away secrets to marketers as well.
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