What Can Clickbait Teach Us about Online Privacy?Oct. 19, 2021 / My Data Removal Staff
What Clickbait Teaches Us about Online Privacy
Clickbait is a television miniseries released on Netflix in August 2021. It was among the most viewed shows of September 2021 according to Nielsen. The story follows a man who goes missing and his family and media look for him. They discover he had different personas and did things online and in-person that were incongruent with his family man image.
Some parts of the movie are somewhat extreme, but other parts are quite realistic. Ben Park, the reporter that is determined to get the inside scoop on Nick and his family, does some investigative research online and finds a lot of information on Nick. Sadly, the tools he used to dig up information on Nick are tools that anyone can use against us. Those tools are data brokers and people search websites.
Your data is available and purchasable online
Your data is all over the internet. If you use social media, obviously, your information is on social media sites. What you share on social media has likely found its way to data brokers. Data brokers and people search websites still have your information even if you don’t use social media.
The type of data available depends on the type of site. Your data on social media sites is limited to what you put onto those sites. They likely know your demographic information, employment information, interests, hobbies, and friends. They likely also know what you look like if you have uploaded pictures. That is a lot of information. Just look at how specific you can be when using targeted advertising on a social media platform.
People search sites focus mostly on demographic information. They know your name, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers, relatives, and sometimes email addresses.
Data brokers try to build extensive files on consumers. Aside from demographic information, they collect your preferences, opinions, political persuasions, online search history, online browsing history, interests, and hobbies. The richer a profile they can gather on you, the more money they can charge when they sell your information.
How they get your data
Sometimes we give them the data, but mostly they get it without us really being aware. When was the last time you read the terms and conditions?
With social media, you give it to them. They make it easy and even fun to share your information. They also make it seem like everyone else is doing it.
You are tracked all over the internet. Most sites have scripts from Google, Facebook, and other companies that advertise to us. They follow you wherever you go. Have you ever searched for something on one site and then seen it advertised to you on multiple other sites? Scripts and cookies were used to track you and target you with specific ads.
Online services often sell our data. This can be very obvious with free apps or services: If the app or service is free, it is likely sharing or selling your data to make money. Just because something doesn’t cost money doesn’t mean it has no cost.
Offline services that we use can also sell or share our data. You wouldn’t have suspected this from your utility companies, but many of them share your data: the power company, your telecom company, your ISP, etc. They have your data and many of them will sell it to earn a little extra money.
Data breaches are technically public, even though the data was supposed to be private. Once it has been dumped on the internet and copied hundreds if not thousands of times it is out there forever. It can then be collected, sorted, and added to databases. Take a look at our post on data breaches for more info.
Scraping, which is extracting important information from another website, is similar to data breaches, but it comes from websites that are scraped rather than leaked. There are some sites that have scraped everything publicly available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and thousands of other websites. Even if you were to delete something on the original platform it might still exist in a scrape somewhere.
Public records are another source that is scraped by data brokers and people search websites. They know where you live and how much you pay in taxes (public information in most states). Sometimes marriage, divorce, and other records are also public.
Credit card companies share your purchase information with parties that are willing to pay. Someone could combine your purchase history from a department store with your purchase history from your credit card company to target you with specific marketing campaigns.
Other things you sign up for also track, gather, and share or sell information about you. Think about the loyalty programs at stores you frequent. The information they get from you is more valuable than the discounts you get. The same goes with credit card points or other rewards programs.
Your information is valuable. Everyone wants a piece, and pretty much everyone is in on it.
What you can do about it
Some people think that because they've never had their identity stolen, they don't need to worry about these issues. This is the easiest and cheapest option. It also means your data is still out there. Juste because you've never been in a car accident doesn't mean it is a good idea not to wear a seatbelt.
For those who want to do something about it, there are two options:do it on your own, or have someone else do it for you.
You can do this on your own, manually, going site-by-site. This option requires your time. It can take anywhere from 10-30 hours to remove your data from the main sites. It is suggested you review these sites every six month since your data can come back as companies find your data from new sources. Check out our How to Remove Your Information from the Internet for Free resource in helping you manually remove your personal information from data brokers and people search websites.
You can have someone else remove your data and do all the work for you. This is our specialty at My Data Removal. We protect your privacy by removing your information from data brokers and people search websites. Remove My Data.