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ORWELLIAN: Facebook, Google Track Your Porn History Even When Using Private Browsers

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A new study found that Google, Facebook, and Oracle have tracking tools siphoning user data from over 20,000 online pornography websites.

As the world’s largest consumer of internet pornography, it appears the United States has largely disregarded much of the well-documented data showing the negative impact of pornography addiction on mental health, relationships, and society at large.

However, a new report from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pennsylvania might finally provide a compelling reason for people to stop visiting adult websites: Mark Zuckerberg is collecting your search history data, even through the use of private browsers.

In the study, which analyzed no less than 22,484 pornography sites, third-party web tracking tools were found on 93% of the sites investigated with the webXray diagnostic tool.

The March 2018 report found that Google had trackers on 16,638 sites, equivalent to 74% of the sites analyzed. Oracle had trackers on 5,396 sites (24%), while Facebook tracked 2,248 (10%).

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Using so-called incognito mode or other forms of private browsing has no effect on the mass data collection, the study found, as third-party code sharing embedded in websites and apps enables the seamless transfer of search data between co-conspiring online advertising companies.

From the research paper:

Although users may perceive a website or app as a single entity (often the address in their browsers), many sites and apps include code from other parties of which users are typically unaware (Lib-ert, 2015). Such “third-party” code can allow companies to monitor the actions of users without their knowledge or consent and build detailed profiles of their habits and interests. Such profiles are often used for targeted advertising, for example, by showing ads for dog food to dog owners (Turow, 2012). Many websites and apps have ad revenue sharing agreements with third-party advertising networks and gain direct monetary bene€fit from including third-party code (Turow, 2012).

In a perhaps even more disturbing revelation, the study also found that Facebook tracks your web activity even if you’re not a registered user on the platform:

However, tracking users on websites without advertisements can provide additional insights into their habits, and online advertising companies like Facebook and Google off‚er web developers a range of “free” non-advertising services subsidized by allowing these companies to track users (Lib-ert, 2015). For example,a developer may include the Facebook “Like” buttŠon on a website to facilitate sharing content, which allows Facebook to track the activities of all visitors – Facebook users or not. Decades of research have demonstrated a variety of types of third-party tracking are endemic on both web and mobile devices (Felten and Schneider, 2000; Krishnamurthy and Wills, 2006; Lib-ert, 2015; Englehardt and Narayanan, 2016; Binns et al., 2018).

The third-party tracking is not limited to pornography websites, or to any geographical region on the globe, meaning web developers and tech giants have engineered the first true “all-seeing eye” to keep watch over an ignorant populace.

One can only speculate how George Orwell and Aldous Huxley would respond upon seeing their most chilling visions of an autonomous technological super-state realized in real life, within mere decades of their predictions.

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