Home > mifamily > Privacy 1: Why do companies want to know so much about me?

Privacy 1: Why do companies want to know so much about me?


Why do they do it?

Companies and organisations exist to do something. It is generally to sell goods (or services) for money, hopefully a profit. Marketing is a term used to identify and promote these products in such a way that will entice people to buy them. Companies regularly profile existing users of their products to see who buys them, and why. With the simple goal to then target other people who are similar in the hope that they might like to buy the products as well.

This is termed targeted marketing.

Targeted marketing is based on a profile that these companies have identified as people who like the product now – in the hope that others of the same mind will also buy the product. This article illustrates that this si not a new thing and how this has migrated into an online world.

How does this happen?

Before we go on, it is important to know that this has been going on for centuries. From spice traders who knew that the French liked one spice and the English another, right through to today at sports grounds where the game and spirit are promoted to men, while a family friendly atmosphere is promoted to women.

In an online world, there are a number of ways to profile customers, based on their online actions. The actions are regularly tracked, and often without your knowledge. Some of these are listed here:

  • Embedded graphics in email
  • Specified links on web pages
  • Individualised links on web pages
  • Cookies
  • Log files

These profiles are built up based on a history of what pages you look at, where you search for them, and even which articles you view on a site. We note that you read this article. I will only know that someone read. If you post a comment, I’ll know who read it, and if you join, then I’ll have a much better knowledge of what type of profile you are in. All of this builds a profile of what interests you. In most cases, this is harmless and actually helpful (I can write more articles about things that are well liked, read, or commented on). However some companies are not as transparent and do not even announce they are doing this, or have a privacy policy (we do – it can be found here).

Image of a blocked Embedded Web Page

Can I stop it?

Yes, all these can be prevented. The easy ones are at the end of the list above. To avoid the difficult ones require some advanced network configuration. The advanced technique of domain blocking is one of the best tools; however it will mean that a number of sites that you use will suddenly show pages that are not available. The images to the right shows this. This does also reduce the chances of scareware.

Some sites also trick you into disclosing more than you would like with a promise of more information if you provide your mobile (cell) number, or a tailored prize if your give your date of birth. Many of these techniques are almost unavoidable; however what you can do is reduce the personalised nature of this information by following these simple tips:

  • Only register for sites you really like, trust, and have a privacy policy that you agree with.
  • Read the privacy policy to see who they disclose information to
  • Do not answer any questions that you may feel uncomfortable about.

References:

  • All about Cookies
  • Domain blocking (Advanced – Future Link)
  • Scareware – how to stop it and reduce its impact (Future Link)

Please Note:

  • Some of the terms in this article are simplified greatly. This is not meant in any way to be a slight on professionals who work in these fields.
  • Also: I don’t use tracking graphics in my pages, however we do track which pages are viewed the most. For details on our privacy policy, click here.

Please comment on this page if domain blocking is a useful article, and remember to like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mifamily.net

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  1. December 20 at 3:28 AM

    Hello.This article was extremely motivating, especially because I was investigating for thoughts on this matter last Sunday.

    • January 3 at 10:42 PM

      Thank you very much for the compliment. I’m glad it was an informative article. We hope you continue to follow us here, or on our Facebook page

  1. December 21 at 8:45 AM

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