Originally published August 27 2015
Facebook has secretly been spying on your medical internet searches
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Academics and scientists researching privacy on the Internet have found it difficult to actually define the parameters of their research and, specifically, what exactly constitutes "privacy" and "privacy violations."
As this this study notes, for example, the study of online privacy is a popular field of research, but the term "privacy" nevertheless "remains poorly defined," and "a word that changes according to location, context, and culture."
In addition, the study's authors went onto note that as "technologies and services proliferate, the line between on- and offline is increasingly blurred," making study of Internet privacy difficult.
But not impossible.
Researchers identified three factors that would provide for adequate measure of online privacy: "[O]ne that is inherently sensitive in nature, applies to the majority of users, and readily lends itself to analysis." And the one area where these three elements converge, they conclude, is health privacy.
Third parties are getting key health data from you
In their study the authors found that 91 percent of Internet pages containing health-related information relay the URL to third parties, "often unbeknownst to the user," and in 70 percent of cases, the URL "contains sensitive information such as 'HIV' or 'cancer' which is sufficient to tip off these third parties that you have been searching for information related to a specific disease." That, according to Tim Libert, of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, author of the study, which shows how dismissive Internet surfers tend to be when it comes to their health privacy online.
As reported by Blacklisted News, citing the study:
It doesn't matter whether you search for health-related topics using Google or supposed privacy-focused search engines like DuckDuckGo, Facebook is still likely to find out about it. That's because websites like the CDC's HIV information page contains "share" and "like" buttons for Facebook, and that's all it takes to let the social media site know that you've visited the page, even if you never click either of those buttons. Sites like WebMD share information with as many as 34 different domains.
Now, just because you conducted a search for a disease or a condition or ailment or even a natural cure and actually visited the site, that doesn't mean the so-called "invisible Web" can automatically identify you by name and address. However, the search does signify your interest in the health-related topic via the particular search query, and that means that as you visit other sites, especially on social media, you are likely to become inundated with targeted advertisements. That obviously means that social media sites using your health queries (and concerns) in an attempt to derive revenue from you.
Continue to read about how Facebook tramples all over our privacy at Facebook.FETCH.news
Privacy endangered in the Information Age
Sometimes receiving targeted ads might seem cool and even handy; they help you remember what you were searching for at one point and may even remind you that you still haven't bought something you truly are interested in buying. But as other researchers have noted, we don't necessarily know what else our information is being utilized for.
"This is particularly frightening if you consider that Experian –one of the websites found to share health searches with third-parties – makes most of its money not by advertising, but by gathering personal data for credit reports, for example, and selling that information to clients," reports Blacklisted News. "According to SciLogs, it makes sense that if Experian knows you're looking at pages concerning a particular disease, the company will store the information in a personal data file about you."
The Information Age, as I have observed, is a two-edged sword, in that we are afforded incredible resources, technology and opportunity. But the problem is the Fourth Amendment's privacy protections have all but been abandoned; it's almost as if that particular provision of the Constitution no longer exists except as an anachronism.
Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, is uniquely aware of this, which is why he created Good Gopher, the world's first privacy-protecting search engine that bans corporate propaganda and government disinfo. In today's increasing Web-connected world, any defense of privacy should be embraced.
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