Under Their Eye: How Your Porn Habits Become Stolen Marketing Tools for Google and Facebook

Yes, your porn habits are being recorded for commercial purposes. New research aimed at targeting web tracker tools shows that Google, Facebook, and Oracle have a vested interest in the porn you watch.

Under Their Eye: How Your Porn Habits Become Stolen Marketing Tools for Google and Facebook
Nothing about your porn habits are incognito on the web. alex_ugalek/iStock

In case youv'e been wondering: yes, Big Brother watches when you watch porn. A new study conducted by the University of Pennysylvania, in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon and Microsoft, has found that Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Oracle place web trackers that report user data to third parties in nearly every pornography website involved in a study of thousands. Even in incognito mode, you are not just being tracked every time you click on a pornography site, you are likewise being effectively sold. 

To expose the girth of the anti-privacy epidemic associated with porn sites, the scholars developing this research made use of an open-source software tool called webXray to show that 79% of websites found to be sharing user data did so via tracking cookies. WebXray is designed specifically to highlight third party data requests.

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In a revealing report first presented by The New York Times, shocking facts, such as that 93% of the 22,484 websites scanned by the authors of this study were sending highly sensitive pesonal data to a median of seven different third party aggregates, came quickly and statistically to light. 

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Don't forget this really should not shock anyone

Even the most optimistic or foolish among us tend to understand that nothing on the internet is ever truly private. However, if you've temporarily allowed yourself the halcyon idea of web privacy, remind yourself of the stark, surveillance-based reality by watching this video from years ago when The Wall Street Journal and televised news sources first reported tracking of this nature on porn sites.

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The ramifications are frighteningly vague

Of all the scary ideas that accompany thoughts of data about your personal life being sold without your knowledge--data which in most intellectual circuits is argued to be every bit as private as medical information--is that we have virtually no knowledge about who actually receives this data or where it goes after it has been collected. 

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Sex remains the final liberation frontier in an America that has long represented an ironic bastion of variegated puritanical ideas regarding this most basic human function.

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In the age of the internet, digital pornography is just one more information meal ticket.
Source: leminuit/iStock

Whether through recent social reconstructions taking place around the MeToo Movement, challenging codified gender identities, the continued politicization and monetization of ages of consent across different states, or even just your fundamental right to look at what you want to on your own private device, attitudes about sexual content of any kind in the country self-touted as "the land of the free" continue to be anything but.

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