image-black-laptop-spy-watchYou took a look at a new car online and now car ads are popping up on your social media pages, in your email and everywhere.  Why?  Because you’re being tracked as you surf the Internet.  While you’re surfing, technology is collecting data on you and your surfing habits.  This information is then used for targeted marketing campaigns.

Should you care?  Maybe. Given that we don’t know what this information will be used for in the future, it’s best to be safe.  For instance, some online retailers are customizing your pricing based on your previous online purchases.  If you bought an expensive pair of shoes, the assumption is that you can afford to pay more and you may be presented with higher prices.

What’s being collected?  Anything that you entered yourself, e.g. address or personal interests and more.  For example, what kind of smartphone that you have, where you’ve been while using your phone’s web browser and of course, the websites that you frequent.  For example, if you don’t log out of Facebook, they will know if you visit a website that has a Facebook “Like” button whether you click on the button or not.

Can you stop the tracking?  First, log out of social media sites when you’re done.  Usually they cannot track you if you’re logged out.  There are free Internet tools that can block Internet tracking or you can enable the privacy settings in your favorite browser (Internet Explorer, Firebox and Chrome).  Some email services such as Gmail let you opt out of personalized ads.  You can find this option on Gmail on the Privacy Policy page.

As the song says, if you always “feel like, somebody’s watching me”, they probably are!