The internet is a great place; you can find nearly anything on it, but at what cost?


It’s impossible to remain private on the internet. Every website you go to keeps logs, and even scarier than that is how much websites you don’t visit know about you. Google knows pretty much every page to go to, because of Google Analytics, Adsense, or both. But other companies still know a lot about you. Take Facebook, for example; every website that contains a Facebook like button, or comments, can see what pages each person goes to, from where, and in some cases, to where.


Each time your browser makes a request for information, be it a photo, or some javascript, the source of that request can learn a lot about you. If you’re on a site using Disqus comments, they can access all sorts of browser data, such as where you came from, your OS, your screen size, your IP, and they can even use cookies to keep even more in-depth logs by identifying you specifically instead of just your IP.


Sure, a VPN will hide your IP, but not all the other browser data. Cookies can still be used as a way to track you, and signing in to Google makes it pretty easy for them to identify you, regardless of your IP.


You probably noticed that ads seem to know a lot about you. You search for laptops on Amazon, and the next thing you know, every site you visit has Amazon deals on laptops. Why? Chances are, they’re using Google Adsense, and Google knows which sites you go to, when, and how. And if they don’t know enough about you, they can buy that information from other services that do track you.

What you get in return

While you are sacrificing a lot of privacy to use the internet, you do get access to hundreds of millions of free websites, and that’s pretty much it. It’s hard to not use the internet, so there are some steps you can take, such as browser extensions that block analytics, and so on. But, I wouldn’t recommend blocking analytics on all sites, just sites such as Facebook that take too much info. Analytics are how content creators make content that people actually want instead of guessing, and without that, we have no way of knowing if you like cat videos or tech blogs :) .

Update: Read NerdOfCode’s point of view here