Whether you take precautions or not, your activity on the internet is being tracked — call it a fact of life. That said, if you’re curious about who’s doing the tracking and what they’re after, there’s a Firefox plugin that can help you find out.
So, who’s watching you? Exactly who you would think is: AdMob (Google), AdSense (Google), DoubleClick (Google), Amazon, Facebook, Adbrite, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and the list goes on.
That’s a generic answer.
However, if you want to know specifically who’s tracking you when visit CNN, for example, then you need to get the Ghostery plugging for Firefox.
One of the most surprising things Ghostery will tell you is that Google and Facebook are just about everywhere. For example, websites with the Facebook “like” button talk to a cookie on your computer and, if you’re logged into your Facebook account (whether you click the thumb or not), Zuckerberg’s toiling minions know you’ve been there.
Theruepon, more than a few men have wondered aloud why they are presented with “find big breasted women near you” ads when on Facebook.
Bread n’ butter (bread n’ butter)
That said, the list of ad companies presented by Ghostery for every site you visit in Firefox corresponds to the cookies (i.e. little bits of code advertisers and web metrics firms) store on your Mac or Windows PC to make and track the connection.
What are they up to? That’s a question open to debate, but Google, Facebook et al are all about commerce — i.e. making money.
Though some folks will again argue, the obvious conclusion is that these companies want to present you with the right ad at the right moment so you spend money.
Is that evil? Honestly, if that business model didn’t succeed, my kids wouldn’t have shoes…
What’s your take?