HN Gopher Feed (2017-07-07) - page 1 of 10
How to See What the Internet Knows About You
171 points by alexkavonhttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/smarter-living/how-to-see-wha...
komali2 - 5 hours ago
>start with this neat and medium-scary site, which our friends at
Gizmodo flagged, that shows you everything your browser knows about
you the second you open it. (clickclickclick.click)"Subject has
entered the website. Subject has 4 cores..." followed by a bunch of
notes about my mouse moving around, or me making the window
hmhrex - 4 hours ago
Although very fun. It also grabs way more data as time goes on.
And it's a pretty interesting little art project.
esnard - 4 hours ago
Have I been pwned is missing from this list, and is an awesome
tool to check whether some of your information have leaked in the
past.Passwords are, in my opinion, way more valuable than browser
mikehain - 2 hours ago
Thanks for this site. I think the Snapchat breach finally
explains why I've been getting so many scam phone calls in the
past few years.
jasonrhaas - 4 hours ago
I recently got tired of all the creepy targeted advertising, so I
hit the nuclear option. Turned off all targeted ads on all social
networks, cleared all cookies, all search histories, and installed
the Disconnect Chrome extension. Also disabled all images in my
email to stop those email trackers. I've always used an ad-blocker
but I don't think that stops the data collection aspects of it.I've
always known this is happening and previously I didn't care because
you figure if you are going to get advertised to, why not make it
relevant, right? Well, it's more complex than that, here are the
problems I have with this kind of data tracking:1. Data can we
used against you in ways you might not understand or have
considered. 2. It's a waste of money and resources. Think of all
the extra bandwidth, server space, human time, that is spent on
just trying to sell people more shit. 3. I don't like the idea of
people making money off my data without my knowledge. 4. Targeted
ads might distract me and cause me to waste extra time
online.Bottom line -- I have a moral objection to the whole idea of
it, and will do everything I can do stop it.
schoen - 2 hours ago
By the way, some of the trackers may still be able to track
you:https://panopticlick.eff.org/(which does not even include all
of the potential methods of browser fingerprinting)Hopefully
over time Disconnect, Privacy Badger, and other tools will be
able to recognize and interfere with or block a lot of these
methods. I'm not sure what I think the long-term prognosis is.
PhasmaFelis - 2 hours ago
I tried turning off targeted Google ads on my phone, and got only
the worst ads possible from then on. Like, 100% strobing "YOUR
PHONE HAS 37 VIRUSES, CLICK HERE TO CLEAN". Eventually I had to
turn it back because ad-supported apps are nearly unusable with
strobing banners at the bottom, which I'm sure was Google's
dublinben - 2 hours ago
Have you considered paying for the apps you use, or using open
source apps (such as from F-Droid) that don't include ads?
PhasmaFelis - 27 minutes ago
Many apps don't have paid versions, only ad-supported, and
even more apps don't have open-source equivalents. I'm sure
you're aware of this.
andmarios - 4 hours ago
I tried it a couple years ago with Google and once targeted ads
were off, I would get many ads about gay dating sites. Once I
turned targeted ads on again, these ads disappeared.
giancarlostoro - 3 hours ago
I had a similar experience, but it was single women, and there
was no way to ask Google to stop showing me those types of ads.
At the very least allow me to block adult advertisements. Maybe
it's on purpose...
johansch - 3 hours ago
Maybe no-one ever made that call, and it's all just based on
the results of continously running automated and fuzzed A/B
com2kid - 2 hours ago
> I recently got tired of all the creepy targeted advertising, so
I hit the nuclear option.Credit cards, mortgage providers, retail
stores, and car dealers all sell customer information on the open
market. Every cell phone company out there knows what provider
you have, stores knows what type of clothing you like to
buy.Wiping your computer clean prevents the ads from appearing on
your PC, but the tracking of you is still taking place.
jereees - 31 minutes ago
What are some ways in which you can prevent this sort of real
life tracking from happening or at least minimize it?
losteric - 5 hours ago
Is the issue ad targeting, or data collection?For me it's the
latter. This is what Google thinks I like: http://imgur.com/a/g8Q7l
- reasonably accurate, and I don't care if it's public or used for
targeting non-intrusive ads. I like those topics, I buy things, go
ahead and show me your products.My objection is over the data used
to learn those interests. I don't want Google tracking my search
and page views across the internet, I don't want my credit card
company tracking my purchase history, and I certainly don't want my
ISP/phone provider tracking my "metadata".I feel like this article
glossed over that aspect. Google's "Ad Personalization" page
controls what Google uses, not what it knows. In this age of state,
corporate, and foreign surveillance/hacking, I'm far more concerned
about the latter.
mungoid - 45 minutes ago
It seems so strange to me that there is such an ever increasing
push to get people to click ads when I can't tell you a single
person I know that ever actually clicks one on purpose. If I see an
ad for something I just search it instead because I don't trust
ads..Except for one time years ago when I saw an ad on my own site
for a drawing tablet and getting my account suspended for cheating
even though I actually bought the tablet. Decided then I'm never
gonna do ads on any of my sites.I think the advertisers care more
about about manipulating companies to buy ads than actually
increasing that companies sales.
albertgoeswoof - 43 minutes ago
I have clicked ads. A lot of people do- if they're relevant and
right there we click them.
mungoid - 27 minutes ago
Oh yeah, I definitely know people do. There wouldn't be so much
advertising out there if visitors didn't click them.I'm just
generally a little overly suspicious about ads because they can
be 'phishy'. That and, like others have commented already, the
ads i see are for things I recently bought so I have no need to
buy them again soon.
whatsmyhandle - 2 hours ago
I generally consider targeted ads to be relatively harmless, with
one major recent exception:I'm starting to shop for an engagement
ring, but since I live with my GF I have to do online research in
Incognito mode so ads don't ruin what I hope to be a surprise
someday.File this under "things peeps didn't have to worry about
10-15 years ago"
owlninja - 5 hours ago
These companies know "more about your life than you do", but yet
the targeted ads continue to be pretty useless. The ad on this
site was an Amazon ad for a pool filter I bought on Amazon about a
week ago. It should know that I don't need these for like another
year now. The other was for a cruise which I just got back from
last week. Maybe some after-sun lotion or something vehicle
related for the fact I drove 6 hours each way? The ads I always see
just never seem that smart given the terabytes of data that
everyone supposedly has on me. They really just seem to reflect my
ajc-sorin - 2 hours ago
The seemingly lack of intelligence isn't due to them being
ineffective, but rather being effective at a task you weren't
necessarily evaluating.The key difference between marketing and
advertising is that marketing is advertising with the added
intent of creating a sale to the person viewing the advertisement
- advertising directly to their target market.Advertising is more
about brand awareness and viral marketing. You bought a pool
filter and won't need one for another year, but you probably have
friends/live near/know people who may be in the market for a pool
filter, and if they ask you about buying one, the brand awareness
may encourage you to suggest that brand, even though you may not
have used it yet or no anything else about other brands - which
is another key benefit.Essentially, advertising has a 2-tier
benefit. Firstly, it solidifies brand awareness, and secondly, it
takes up space that would have gone to a competitor. Now the cost
of competing is that much higher, because in order to get your
business a competitor would need to invest in a superior product
and invest in bringing awareness to you."If you judge a fish by
its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life
believing it's stupid."
pmoriarty - 4 hours ago
One of the points of advertising is to get you to recognize the
brand, so that in the future when you shop for similar products
you'll think of theirs as a familiar brand (even tough you may
have no memory of ever having seen their ads).Ads also often get
you to associate positive feelings with the brand or product.
Again, this might not result in directly buying the product right
away, but next time you think of it, you'll be more likely to buy
it than if you never saw the ad.
II2II - 2 hours ago
A local grocery store has a points card that bases its offers on
prior purchases, and suffers from the problem that you
identified. I have often wondered if it would be practical to
turn the tables by making a token purchase just before an
anticipated sale, then reaping the rewards the following week.
Swizec - 5 hours ago
Hint: they don't care. It works well enough.I use remarketing and
it definitely annoys some people and they complain that I'm
following them around. But you know what? They buy. Without
remarketing they forget.I would love to turn it off after they do
buy, but it's too hard to configure and hey, it reminds them to
actually use the thing they bought. Customers are great, but only
users tell their friends,
bdamm - 4 hours ago
The better ad would market the product your friend just bought
to you. The privacy concerns are enormous, but regardless, the
data is there today and I'd be surprised if it isn't already at
Swizec - 4 hours ago
Facebook has a "People who liked your page and their friends"
audience option for ads.Another great one is "lookalike
audience based on LTV". So you only advertise to people who
are like your biggest customers.
iamnothere - 1 hours ago
Your comment explains something crucial about targeted
advertising that other people often fail to understand. The ad
tech companies provide a platform for advertising, but it is up
to the user (the advertiser) to configure and use the platform
correctly. Often, advertisers may configure their targeting in
ways that are suboptimal. Or, their e-commerce platform may not
be properly set up to record conversions and associate them
with targets. (Depending on the platform, they may not even
have that option.)Poorly configured ad targeting happens just
as often as poorly configured firewalls, servers, Wordpress
installs, cloud deployments, etc... probably more often since
the consequences aren't as dire.(Not a fan of targeted ads
either, but I often see people complaining about post-purchase
targeted ads as if this is a universal problem. So much depends
on the specific platforms involved, the skill levels and
intentions of the many different ad buyers on each platform,
and so on. Results will vary.)
bahmboo - 33 minutes ago
It shows that even with huge inefficiencies web ads are making
tons of money for all the major players both supply and demand
(sorry bloggers). Amazon and Google are well aware of the problem
and working on it to some extent but I guess there are bigger
fish to fry in the meantime.
jakub_g - 31 minutes ago
I used to think the same but I've read recently the rationale as
follows: apparently, you're most likely to buy a pool filter just
after you bought one, because maybe the one you bought broke, or
you don't like it, or whatever else, and you need a new one.Not
sure how much truth is there behind it, but maybe there's a bit.
Obviously, it does not apply much to the cruise though.
koonsolo - 2 hours ago
I live in Belgium with 2 main languages, Dutch and French.
YouTube still shows me French adds, while I speak Dutch.
jpdaigle - 5 hours ago
I'm asking for something even more basic from ad targeting: as a
Canadian, with a Canadian IP address, don't advertise
products/services to me that are US-only.You'd think the web
advertising industry would at least figure out how to never show
me an ad for Hulu or Blue Apron, seeing how those companies don't
do business outside the US so the ROI on having me click that is
blacksmith_tb - 4 hours ago
Ah, but they are "building brand awareness" (or who knows,
maybe even legitimately testing the waters to see if they want
to expand to Canada).
Godel_unicode - 3 hours ago
Nobody from the US ever visits Canada? This is a good example
of how the spotlight effect combines with confirmation bias to
make advertising look awful. All algorithms like this are going
to have false positive rates, if their most successful ads are
the ones shown to Americans in Canada should they stop because
sometimes Canadians see them and are annoyed by them?
tomdell - 3 hours ago
It's doubtful that the most successful ads are ones
specifically shown to Americans in Canada, and the number of
Americans in Canada at any given time is probably very
insignificant compared to the number of Canadians in
Canada.It really does seem like a boneheaded advertising
strategy to market yourself to a consumer audience when the
overwhelming majority of them can't pay for your products,
and when it's presumably easy to screen that audience out by
gaius - 5 hours ago
The purpose of these ads is not to sell you stuff. Its to sell
advertising to companies that don't understand this internet
stuff but are terrified of being "left behind". The ads need to
be plausible, thats why someone has to see them, but who that is
literally doesn't matter.
spyspy - 4 hours ago
Ad companies make money based on clicks, not views. It's in
their interest to make them interesting enough to click on.
gaius - 2 hours ago
I don't think that's true, because who is clicking on these
ads for things they already own?
snowwrestler - 5 minutes ago
No one, of course.The problem isn't 100% negative matching
(ads shown only to people who already own the thing), the
problem is greedy pattern matching (ads shown to anyone who
might possibly be interested). That ends up matching
against people who want the thing, and people who just got
the thing.And that's not really that bad for advertisers
because they only pay for the clicks. People who don't want
it (perhaps because they just bought it) just won't
click.It is only a "problem" for the ad platform, in terms
of the efficient use of inventory. In theory a poorly
matched ad is displacing a better targeted ad that would
perform better and make the platform more money.But
practically speaking it is only a competitive disadvantage
if your targeting is worse than competing platforms. Even
if the targeting leaves a lot be desired, if it is even a
little better than everyone else, you'll still land
contracts and make money.
reaperducer - 40 minutes ago
You've got to think beyond the computer. Most big
companies pay per ad view, not per click. Per click is for
the low-end advertisers. Per action is for bottom-
feeders.Think about billboards, TV, radio, and magazines.
Can't click on any of them, yet hundreds of billions of
dollars are spent on them every year because repeating the
brand, logo, visual, or message works. There's a reason
McDonald's and Coca-Cola advertise heavily. It works.
logfromblammo - 1 hours ago
An intelligent advertising engine would know the typical
interval between two purchases of the same product, and
start advertising similar products just before that
interval has elapsed since the last purchase.Examples:
pool filter: 12 months reptile UV lamp: 6 months gift-
wrapping paper: 12 months oil filter, recycling box, 5 qt
oil: 4 months 8-ct paper towel rolls: 2 months
television: 4 years automobile: 10 years magazine
subscriptions: 1 year tacos: every Tuesday
gaius - 1 hours ago
Indeed, but this engine doesn't exist, and in 15+ years
of weaponised adtech, noone's been sufficiently
economically incentivised to make it. Telling, no?
snowwrestler - 16 minutes ago
You're underestimating how hard it would be to build such
an engine. Google and Facebook have sunk $billions into
their knowledge graphs so far, and not made much of a
blowski - 4 hours ago
_Some_ ad companies make their money on clicks. Others charge
per impression, and others charge per acquisition.
sparky_z - 40 minutes ago
How does that explain Amazon ads? They should actually want to
make a sale, right?
gpawl - 2 hours ago
You confuse "slightly imperfect" with "useless"
knz - 16 minutes ago
> These companies know "more about your life than you do", but
yet the targeted ads continue to be pretty uselessIt always
amuses me when Facebook reminds me that it was my wife's birthday
the previous day. A real AI would alert me at least a week in
j_s - 6 hours ago
Michael Bazzell is an expert on (both sides of) Open Source
Intelligence (OSINT: data collected from publicly available
maintains a virtual machine "pre-configured for online
investigators" and a
inovica - 1 hours ago
Thank you. Never seen this before - just ordered one of his
mirimir - 1 hours ago
Adversaries only know what you let them. But this article does
little more than rehash well-known clickbait. And it offers little
Jimmie_Rustle - 4 hours ago
Why is this on HN lol
sctb - 2 hours ago
We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the
guidelines. We're happy to unban accounts if you email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we believe you'll post civilly and
substantively in the future.
em3rgent0rdr - 2 hours ago
HN people might want to share some of these test sites to their
commenter98456 - 3 hours ago
Why is targeted advertising acceptable? it is not ok for a seller
to stalk potential buyers.I get that everyone has accepted this as
a "fact of life" but consider how TV advertising was done. The
advertisement is tailored to the show you are watching and the time
of day.In other words, if I'm on a tech blog, advertise to me tech
products, if I'm reading a cooking recipe, advertise
kitchenware,grocery delivery and the like.As a consumer, I am more
likely to remember an advertised product if the AD is within the
context of the web page I'm visiting.Target pages not users! not
even as precise as I mentioned above but statistical approximations
can be made, much like with TV ads (for example, "ycombinator
visitors are likely to buy artisnal cookware compared to people
visiting nytimes" )The problem at the end of the day is that users
in general don't like to be tracked. some may sacrfice the privacy
for the convenince but most will prefer if the sacrifice wasn't
neccesary.I think better advertising solutions are what is needed.
It is unfortunate how much money is instead spent on technology to
stalk users, as if using a complex computer system makes it more
accpetable or ethical.
woobar - 1 hours ago
TV advertising was targeted too. They used Nielsen data to
identify potential audience (white males, 40-50 y.o., middle
class income) and show ads targeting this demo.
criddell - 1 hours ago
I'm fine with certain kinds of targeted advertising.For example,
if I search for "subaru" on Google, it makes sense for the ads on
the page to be for cars and local car dealers.Other than that, I
think the online ad industry is almost entirely built on lies and
half-truths. Ads support a lot of sites I visit, but I think what
it costs me (in computer resources and loss of privacy) is no
longer reasonable. I run with an ad blocker all the time now.
Mostly I object to the tracking, not the ads.
dublinben - 5 hours ago
This site also goes into a lot of detail about the digital tracks
you leave online, and how to minimize them: https://myshadow.org/
jcoffland - 5 hours ago
Most of what the article complains about can be solved with an ad
blocker. The rest by staying off of Facebook.
anigbrowl - 2 hours ago
Staying off Facebook means committing social semi-suicide for a
lot of people.It's the primary channel for my local community,
contacting local elected representatives, family members in
distant places, and several sociopolitical communities of which
I'm a part. For many people it's a necessity, and other channels
like email etc. are far less efficient precisely because they
don't leverage the networking effects.This advise is like telling
someone who's worried about toxins in their food to eat less of