Online tracking, internet tracking, or data tracking is a subject that is being discussed more often in the past couple of years. The way companies deal with our data has sparked many discussions. Furthermore, data misuse and improper protection have also emerged as one of the two biggest threats.
Some might consider tracking online as a positive feature. After all, it gives us personalized content, meaning we can find new businesses and relevant services. However, the bigger picture suggests just how much privacy users lose by simply browsing the web. While you might feel like you are alone, techniques like third-party cookies will let many entities know about your actions.
Of course, the dilemma is not an easy one. It offers particular benefits, but can they outweigh the disadvantages? Let’s find out.
Online Tracking Explained
Online tracking happens every day to all netizens worldwide. When we enter a website, it takes time to remember us. For instance, cookies help sites greet you with certain preferences.
Additionally, some details might be accustomed to your digital identity. For example, if you visit an online store, it might automatically calculate delivery fees. How? Well, most websites read visitors’ IP addresses to determine their approximate location. Thus, your IP address is one of the identifiers that you show whenever entering a new site.
Online tracking is essential for companies, allowing them to conduct various studies and improve user experience. However, not all users like the fact that random companies get access to information about them (even if it is anonymized). Additionally, many netizens object to the highly personal ads they see across the web. Sometimes, all it takes is searching for a specific item, and your feed will be filled with ads from that field.
Easier Access To Better Deals
Lots of people don’t understand the power of retargeting and how much companies use it. We all forget items in our shopping carts, get email reminders, go for discounts, but when there are seasonal offers, and so much more.
All of these things are enabled with tracking. With tracking, you are targeted with deals and offers that you might be interested in. So, from this perspective, online tracking saves you money. But this is not the whole story.
Online Life Can Be Easier
Facebook and Google accounts have become very powerful. We can use these accounts to sign in anywhere. It can be convenient as we don’t have to memorize many passwords and accounts to sign in.
Instead, we can just memorize our Facebook or Google accounts and log in anywhere. However, this also has a wrong side that we will mention once we get to the downsides of internet tracking.
Web tracking improves services like weather reports to give consumers the exact information they are looking for without entering a variety of data. At the same time, tracking also ensures that these services don’t give you the same information repeatedly.
In other words, tracking enables personalization for various services and makes it a lot more effective. It makes the internet and various web services a lot more convenient without us even knowing that this is happening.
You’re Not Always Getting Relevant Deals
We mentioned before that tracking can help us find deals, finish our shopping trips, or help us find some amazing discounts. Even though this is true, these suggestions and reminders aren’t always accurate.
Tracking often sends you to things you’ve already seen, read, or purchased. Sometimes, we might check out certain things not because we are interested in buying them but out of sheer curiosity. Then we get bombarded with similar content, and our heads start to hurt.
Getting Stuck In Your Comfort Zone
In the past decade or so, we’ve seen many conspiracy theory movements inspired by the internet. And sadly, it is really easy to get one-sided news. Once websites and services learn about your preferences, they will present similar content. In some cases, it might lead to more fake news and misinformation spread online. Thus, people might struggle to find accurate information due to their past activities.
It’s Not Necessary
Lots of tracking is done online for the benefit of “convenience.” But in a lot of cases, this convenience comes down to having to make fewer clicks. This kind of convenience isn’t worth it if you give away your personal data and sacrifice online privacy.
On the other hand, lots of companies collect data just because everyone is doing it. They want to save it and use it in the future in case there is a need.
Loss Of Privacy
Everyone has the right to privacy, no matter if it’s online or in the real world. Data tracking is a direct infringement on our privacy. All kinds of companies track our behavior online and which places we visit and store this data in one way or another.
This data is later processed and sold to some other business for profit. No company should be able to make profits by selling other people’s personal information. Thus, many users stand up for their right to enjoy a private digital experience.
Some might change providers, like leaving Google for a more privacy-focused alternative. Additionally, people might become more aware of the influence of third-party cookies. Thus, many users block them by default despite the losses that occur. Furthermore, many people turn to tools like Atlas VPN to boost privacy and anonymity online. This tool masks your IP address and encrypts information about your internet traffic. Hence, marketers and other institutions have fewer options to track you.
Yes, internet tracking gives us some benefits but are they worth it? The downsides are far more critical to the way the internet will look in the future. Thus, you should take control of your digital identity. For one, try to limit the information you supply voluntarily.
Take signup processes as an example. The form might require many details. However, only username, password, and email might be mandatory. Thus, fill in only the required information, and refrain from revealing more than absolutely necessary. As for the online tracking, consider the alternatives we mentioned. There are many browsers and search engines you can pick to escape the biggest ad company in the world.
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