The Internet is Spying on You

How does an inanimate object know your shopping habits? It is some kind of omniscient being that knows everything about everyone. Every time you are on line, you leave a trail behind that this creature is memorizing for future reference. Let’s say you are buying a hot tub today. You spend an hour on various websites reading descriptions and reviews, and comparing prices. You abandon this project for a few days but when you are checking your emails, suddenly an ad appears out of nowhere for the “best” hot tub at a site called Hottest Tubs. What? How on earth?

No, I am not paranoid. This is a reality we all face. If you want to use the Internet, this is the consequence. It is part of the “privilege” of being a user to have your computer think for you. It searches by itself and brings you things you might want to buy.  Listen, I prefer ads for hot tubs over the sneaky sexy blurbs I get from Russian women selling their bodies to me by email. As much as I change my “preferences” and report spam, nothing really happens. I am doomed forever to get hot tub advertising. Even if I elect to buy one, I don’t know how to report it to the powers that be in the brain of the Internet.

It is clever indeed: this ability to keep you shopping until hell freezes over. Don’t try deleting your “cookies” as it doesn’t help. This is just a history of the websites you open. Your browsing for goods and services takes you to many other places. I know people who get these pop up ads and buy things they suddenly are told to need. It is convenient and just a marketing tool. This is a brave new world of e-commerce and it is quite competitive. I can see why someone programs a memory system into the Internet. How do they do it? It is a massive process no doubt, but it yields results. The fact is: the Internet is spying on you. The spiders are running wild tracking your every move.

A spider is just a program that cruises through web sites and reads activity associated with them which it then sends to a search engine index. Each index has its own program called a “crawler” or sometimes a “bot.” I love the lingo even though I don’t love what these programs do. They are invasive of your privacy and should be against the law. New sites get the most attention. These spiders have very long “legs” that span huge sections of the appropriately-named Web. They can be in many places at once, thus effectively accomplishing their goals in a short period of time. They love to gobble up hypertext links. I have to admit that most e-tailers want this kind of scrutiny to promote their business. And you as a user can just stop shopping online anytime you like!