Your (Online) MD is Talking About You
Friday, June 12, 2015
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
Is the cough
you have right now a touch of allergies or a summer cold? It's easy to
toss a question like this into a Google search and end up at WebMD. Or
Answers.com or About.com, all for-profit sites which have high rankings
in Google search results.
doesn't stop there, though, even if you find your answer. Those sites
collect information about you to sell to advertisers or data brokers.
That is, they send your search terms along with identifying
information about your computer to a list of companies, reports
article from February of this year.
often includes Google and Facebook, which are top online advertising
companies, who also supply analytics and social-sharing tools. This may
sound fairly innocuous when you're looking up cold symptoms, but when
can use data to figure out if a customer is pregnant before she's
told anyone, greater risks are easy to picture. Even the CDC's
website uses Google and Facebook tracking tools.
protect your privacy, there are steps you can take. The
Electronic Frontier Foundation has created Privacy
Badger, an web browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that spots
and can block trackers. Google (and Amazon and others) tracks your
search history when you're logged in, so log out and use a public
computer (like those in your library) which lots of other people also
course, we can help people find health information from better sources
Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator