Beck’s and Reilly’s articles give us a lot of resources we can use to “track the trackers,” take control of our invisible digital identities, and just generally increase our awareness of how we are being monitored as we move about in digital spaces. Today, we’re going to explore some of these—and other—resources.
Ghostery: A browser extension you can add to detect, learn more about, and—if you’d like—block the third-party trackers that are invisibly surveilling you on each page you visit.
BlueKai: A site that shows you what data about you is collected by the Oracle Data Cloud for use in interest-based advertising. In my experience, there’s a lot of data here, and it’s not always clear why it shows up.
Electronic Frontier Foundation: A website with numerous resources related to online surveillance and digital rights. As they explain themselves, they are “the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.” You might be most interested to explore the various tools they offer that are meant to enable you to increase your privacy and reveal surveillance.
The Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory Program: A website with numerous resources, including ones that will allow you to learn more about internet-based advertising, see who is tracking you and then choose to opt out, and/or report a complaint.
Facebook Ad Preferences: You access this by going to your Settings page in Facebook and clicking on “Ads” in the menu. From there, you can see what Facebook “knows” about you, see which advertisers you have interacted with, and change your ad settings.
The Guardian‘s Tracking the Trackers Project: Find out more about tracking in general (e.g., what are cookies? how do they work?) and about specific trackers (e.g., what Doubleclick is/does, what Twitter tracks).
Apply Magic Sauce: This is not a resource that comes up in Beck’s or Reilly’s articles, but it is one that Note to Self discussed during their Privacy Paradox project. This site will look at your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and reveal the psychological traits predicted about you based on those accounts. Super interesting and a bit disturbing.
DuckDuckGo: A search engine that doesn’t track you.
You might be interested in this Note to Self episode where Manoush talks with the person who created Facebook ad tracking.
Finally, we can’t talk about these topics without explicitly discussing the recent controversy around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica:
- An overview of what happened, provided by the New York Times
- An article from Money about how to find all of the data Facebook has about you
- A ProPublica article that proposes four ways to “fix Facebook”