How Do Websites Collect Your Data And How Do They Use It?
Fitness trackers, online navigation, search engines, social media, online shopping - hardly a step goes unnoticed in everyday life. As a result, users can easily lose track of what data they have disclosed where and what is happening with the information there. Here is an overview of where data is collected in the network:
What data is collected?
The so-called data brokers, i.e. companies that collect, buy and sell data, have very detailed profiles of people. They not only have information about their age, gender, address or marital status. They also know about their origin, weight, height, level of education. As well as their political views, preferences and tastes, shopping habits, vacation plans, health problems and illnesses. Details on job and career, bankruptcy or finances are also collected. Sometimes data collectors even manage to understand and document relationships with others. Then not only the users themselves, but also their friends and relatives are in the catalog of the data broker.
Who is collecting data?
There is almost always a financial interest here: Companies want to better understand the behavior of their own customers. This is in order to sell more products. Or they want to monetize the data themselves. Well-known data collectors include Google, Facebook, other social media channels and messengers. Internet providers, and all providers of products or services are just as interested in data as insurance companies and banks. Governments also collect certain personal information but are not allowed to pass it on.
What are the effects for users?
Each piece of information is of no interest in itself. But when different data and factors come together, a detailed picture of each user emerges, which is valuable for companies. Here are some scenarios that are possible or already a reality today:
It's not just the consequences that are critical: in some cases, these classifications are based on inaccurate information. However, there is no simple process for consumers to access, correct, contest and delete this information.
How is the data collected?
It's simple: cookies provide information about the preferences of the person visiting the site. The latter is thus able to recognize and store information. For example the choice of language, connection identifiers, the pages viewed or for example the contents of a shopping cart. Cookies are also useful for obtaining statistics on the website in question. Including page consultation time, bounce rate, clicks, etc. All of this improves site traffic. There is also another type of cookie: third-party cookies. These have a very important role for targeted advertising. Indeed, it is they, by keeping in mind the pages that you consult, which then allow the display of related advertisements on other sites. No wonder then if you notice ads for sofas on your Facebook feed after visiting a furniture website, right? Therefore businesses can get a better idea of how their visitors behave. As well as how they can base their new content and advertising campaigns to suit the needs and desires of their visitors.
Data is important for many and also incredibly valuable. But the collection of personal data is not used only for commercial purposes. In fact, in 2012, during his presidential campaign, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama was able to collect more than a billion dollars. This is thanks to the analysis of the personal data of his voters. And nearly 70% of that harvest came from online donations. Therefore, data will continue to be a vital aspect of business for many years to come.