The Real Hidden Dangers of Online Advertising

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Are we really anonymous?

A scary thing happened to me last week. I was in the middle of getting ready for my business trip to San Francisco. I had just run to Walmart to fill my husband’s prescription and pick up a few trial size beauty products to take through security. I was checking my email and noticed a “Thank you for updating your profile information.” email from Walmart. I hit delete and then went…

“What?” Updated profile?

The Real Hidden Dangers of Online Advertising

The Real Hidden Dangers of Online Advertising

I almost didn’t give it a second thought. I had just been to Walmart. I just made a purchase. I had even checked their website to see if they carried something. But, I didn’t update any information. This post has been sponsored but the story is true.

A quick phone call to their customer support number revealed that someone else had hacked my account and changed my email address. Thankfully, there was no other sensitive information in my account. Their website only shows the last 4 digits of my credit card and it was a card I cancelled a while ago when one of my credit cards was involved in one of those giant security breaches.  I had the account closed and moved on but I started thinking.

I do a lot of searching online. I search for keywords. I search for healthy living tips. I search for information on how to take better photos, get more traffic to my blog or make a better cup of coffee. “Google it.” is a big part of my vocabulary. This thought really underscored what my father told me ages ago:

Every website you visit is tracking you.

For the most part, it doesn’t bother me that websites are serving me ads based on what I search for. I have a passion for coffee and healthy living and I enjoy seeing new products around those interests. But in some cases, the ads we see now are more than that. There are real hidden dangers of online advertising.

Every website you visit has parts of the site you cannot see that are tracking your behaviour, your purchases, and your interests. I’m not talking about just the ad in the sidebar for coffee or a new movie. I’m talking about hidden tracking pixels that are taking your data and compiling it into a database to predict behavior and then tailor what ads it fees back to you.

Back in 2012, Orbitz got caught feeding higher priced hotel options to those that owned a Mac versus a PC.  How did they know? Tracking.  In the same year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Staples was showing lower prices to people who had a competitor’s store nearby. Those that did not weren’t shown those savings. Again, tracking.

I have no problems with advertising. After all, I earn money from it on my sites as do most bloggers. But, I want to be in control of when I see those ads and what “the internet” knows about what I’m searching for.

The first step to this control is to download F-Secure with F-Secure Ad Blocker. F-Secure Ad Blocker is a completely free and easy tool that blocks intrusive ads on your iPhone and iPad. Take it one step further and get F-Secure Freedome VPN that allows you to control your online privacy and security at the touch of a button. Start your free 90 day trial of Freedome VPN today using code cttpc3. It’s time to take back your privacy and be aware of the real hidden dangers of online advertising.

There are all sorts of hidden dangers of online advertising – far more than simply paying more money. You can read more about them in a Digital Trends article that was published earlier this year.

The Real Hidden Dangers of Online Advertising

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Comments

  1. That is scary. I'm careful not to give out info online or update things in response to emails. I don't believe I even have a photo of myself online! Yep I'm pretty guarded about my info. This is good info to keep learning about because they always come up with new ways to use your info. All good to know, thanks!
  2. Thanks for the info.  I hate ads on my mobile device.  Half the time I can never even get a page to load the ads make it so unusable!
  3. I've resigned myself to the fact that our privacy is no longer in our own hands. Scary world we live in now!
  4. This is so very scary! I have gotten quite a few emails like this, and have known a few people who do fall for these scams, it is a scary world out there online. 

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