Essay on AoW 10 Digital Shadow

Submitted By iliek
Words: 1006
Pages: 5

Article of the Week #10 ­ “Digital Shadow”

1. Show evidence of a close reading. Mark up the text with annotating symbols:
● ✓ = something you already knew
● + = new information
● ? = questions, ideas/phrases/words you don’t understand, and/or things you don’t agree with
● highlight = something really important to the article (main ideas)
● underline (or circle) = unfamiliar words or article­specific vocabulary words
2. Then add comments that correspond to the symbols. (5 comments MINIMUM)
3. Write a 10­15 typed­line response (12­point font) to one of the writing prompts at the bottom, or some of your thoughts related to the article. Digital shadow: How companies track you online
Who's following your every move on the web, and what do they want from you? Source: The Atlantic Online

This morning, if you opened your browser and went to, an amazing thing happened in the milliseconds between your click and when the news about North Korea or James Murdoch appeared on your screen. Data from this single visit was sent to 10 different companies, including Microsoft and Google subsidiaries, a gaggle of traffic­logging sites, and other, smaller ad firms. Nearly instantaneously, these companies can log your visit, place ads tailored for your eyes specifically, and add to the ever­ growing online file about you. There's nothing necessarily sinister about this subterranean data exchange: This is, after all, the advertising ecosystem that supports free online content. All the data lets advertisers fine­tune their ads, and the rest of the information logging lets them measure how well things are actually working. And I do not mean to pick on The
New York Times. While visiting The Huffington Post or The Atlantic or Business Insider, the same process happens to a greater or lesser degree. Every move you make on the Internet is worth some tiny amount to someone, and a panoply of companies want to make sure that no step along your Internet journey goes unmonetized. Even if you're generally familiar with the idea of data collection for targeted advertising, the number and variety of these data collectors will probably astonish you. While the big names — Google, Microsoft, Facebook,
Yahoo, etc. — show up in this catalog of information collectors, the bulk of it is composed of smaller data and advertising businesses that form a shadow Web of companies that want to help show you advertising that you're more likely to click on and products that you're more likely to purchase. That's the game, and there is substantial money in it. As users, we move through our Internet experiences unaware of the churning subterranean machines powering our Web pages with their cookies and pixel trackers, their tracking code and databases. We shop for wedding caterers and suddenly see ring ads appear on random Web pages we're visiting. We sometimes think the ads following us around the Internet are "creepy." We sometimes feel watched. Does it matter? We don't really know what to think. Most privacy debates have been couched in the technical. We read about how Google bypassed Safari's privacy

settings, whatever those were. Or we read the details about how Facebook tracks you with those friendly Like buttons. Behind the details, however, are a tangle of philosophical issues that are at the heart of the struggle between privacy advocates and online advertising companies: What is anonymity? At the heart of the problem is that we increasingly live two lives: a physical one, in which your name, social security number, passport number, and driver's license are your main identity markers, and one digital, in which you have dozens of identity markers, which are known to you and me as cookies. These markers allow data gatherers to keep tabs on you without your name. Those cookie numbers, which are known only to the entities that assigned them to you, are persistent markers of who you