The Internet may be considered a vast data centre where information from all over the world is kept, and regular people aren’t the only ones with access to this data.
Companies in the search engine and website industries have been capitalising on consumers’ openness about their lives and information since at least the 1990s. They may determine your birthday, place of birth, favourite meal, line of work, hobbies, and even your mother’s maiden name.
Many consumers still have no idea that their personal data is being actively collected since they aren’t aware of the implications of the information they provide. You, as a former journalist, should know better, but the typical person doesn’t, and the sophistication of this data collection is much greater than most people realise.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the most common private details that many websites have gathered from you without your knowledge.
1. Your Name and Job
The name field on a website allows users to post their names, as well as their full addresses and contact information. While this information is necessary in order to identify and contact you, it also gives the site some information about who you are and what you do. Companies such as Amazon and Target allow users to update their profiles and include more information.
Some sites even ask users to fill out specific job fields, such as the name of their employer or their favourite food. Amazon.com allows users to submit a job field for every category of information they provide on their profile.
2. Your Address
Many people don’t realise that websites collect their addresses or phone numbers, even if they’re not asked for them in the form. Most users give their addresses out when filling out surveys or when they buy something online. If a website has obtained this information, it is usually kept in order to contact them.
3. Your Age and Gender
Many websites ask for users’ age when they create an account. Websites may even request an email address when signing up, making it easy for them to obtain your email address and collect other information from you. Facebook (www.facebook.com) has even admitted to doing this.
Many websites use this information to tailor their pages to be more user-friendly. Target.com allows users to update their gender, location, and interests from their profiles. Even if a website does not initially ask for this information, it can still obtain it with a cookie.
4. Favourite Food
You might be surprised to know that sites like Amazon, and Target (Target.com) allow users to add their favourite foods to their profiles. If a user fills out a survey or buys something from Amazon, they may get the option to add their favourite foods in the comments.
5. Your Location
Some websites allow users to update their locations. For example, you might see fields asking for your hometown, age, and gender when you create an Amazon.com (www.amazon.com) account. Users might update these details after they create an account. Users can also provide information about their age, gender, and location when they create a Facebook (www.facebook.com) account. These details are only used to provide an appropriate and useful experience for the user.
Websites use this data to determine whether they should provide users with special offers, advertisements, and other services. Websites might allow this data to be collected even if you have declined it, but it is highly unlikely that they will.
7. Website Analytics
Numerous websites employ analytics software to monitor a range of information, such as visitor count, page views, visit length, and referral origins. The provided data facilitates the comprehension of user behaviour by website owners, enabling them to implement enhancements to their own sites.
The average person believes that websites are always collecting personal information and that they are providing it to third parties. In reality, it is much more common for sites to obtain this information without your consent, and for users to have no idea it’s happening. Users need to know that their data is being collected to protect their privacy and prevent the sites from sending it to others. If your concern is privacy, users will more than likely appreciate your efforts to protect their information.
For websites, privacy is a major concern. Data collection practises are becoming more complicated as consumers use mobile devices and share more personal information. It’s important to learn what your rights are and how to protect yourself and your private information.