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Author Topic: Something to think about when posting links to other websites  (Read 1214 times)

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Offline cruizng

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Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« on: September 27, 2019, 07:51:25 AM »
Summary: 

Today Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Youtube, and many more deal in selling data. They make Billions of dollars by offering “FREE” application like Gmail, Web Browsers, Picture Hosting sites, Online Retail, Social Networking, and many more. 

They have spent years building data profiles on everyone that range way beyond what you like to eat, or your favorite pants to buy. If you use Google Chrome web browser they are tracking everything you do on line. If you use Gmail they track every conversation. In the past it was sanitized so they stripped out personally identifiable information so they could sell the data as an aggregate. They found out they can sell for a lot more money personal data. 

Enter SIRI and Alexa. In order to respond to any voice request anytime they have to be “listening” all of the time. They are recording all that they hear. This isn’t tin foil hat realm anymore just search online for contractors listening in on peoples conversations. The reason they are listening in the first place is so they can transcribe what they hear and add it to your database. 

They admitted to it after being caught. This will not stop them.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/23/20830120/apple-contractors-siri-recordings-listening-1000-a-day-globetech-microsoft-cortana

So back to something to think about posting links. If you don’t want to assist them in collecting data from any site you participate in you would just need to strip out the portion of the URL that allows them to collect where the “Share” came from. 

YouTube for example. 

If you are watching a video the URL in the address bar at the top of the page shows as below.
 
https:// www. youtube.com/watch?v=hD7wdSamXZU

If you want to share the video and click on the Share link you get the URL below. The .be is actually a Belgium code.
 
https:// youtu.be/hD7wdSamXZU

Why would YouTube use a Belgium domain for their share? Why not .com? If you do a WHOIS search on youtu.be you don’t get much other than Registrar is MarkMonitor Inc. and the DNS Nameservers show up as ns4.google.com.
 
So why Belgium and Mark Monitor? Go to markmonitor.com. They serve themselves up as protectors of Domain Names and Domain Management. They are owned by Clarivate Analytics. 

In their Mission Statement they state:

“The Clarivate story began in 1864 with the foundation of the Zoological Record, the world’s oldest continuing database of animal biology. Over the years we evolved, adding a broad range of trusted insights, analytics and content to meet customer needs.”

Their customer is Google. Do you think Google wants them to protect youtu.be or collect data that is routed through their servers and provide analytics? 

I could go into every website and look at every share button the intent is basically the same. Extract personal data. 

So if you post or want to share anything on RMTS you might want to strip out or use the original URL instead of the link that contains the tracking info. There are tons of articles on the web showing how they track you but for this topic it is only what you can do when sharing links. 

When you share links you might be inadvertently supporting someone or something you do not support.

When you have a "?" in a link towards the end, it usually is followed by a term and an "=" sign with some value after the equals sign.
Below is a link for sharing an article on thehill website. At the end of the new URL you can see the added ? mark and value set to true. 

https:// thehill.com/opinion/campaign/462658-lets-get-real-democrats-were-first-to-enlist-ukraine-inus-elections?amp&__twitter_impression=true

This is how variables are passed to the website. 

The question mark is an operator that tells the website that whatever follows is either a variable with its value OR it calls a method on the website server.

If you want to share this article and not include the twitter impression data you can delete the question mark and everything to the right of it and then post that URL link. 

Another method from YouTube:   

You also see this in any Youtube video Link:

"https:// www. youtube.com/ watch?v=s-e5EklpV2E"

The "?" after "watch" calls up the "v" variable and sets it to "s-e5EklpV2E", which is the unique Identifier for this specific video. 

I assume the "v" here is short for "video".

Almost all website try to monetize their content:

Now imagine you want to share a story from a liberal news site that suddenly has 1 story that is honest about Trump, and you post a link like this (Found this exact link posted here before):

"https:// nypost.com/2017/09/01/obamas-the-most-expensive-ex-president-for-taxpayers/ ?fbclid=IwAR0GfdDu35TNxlLFEChWw66U16l-eEqljNcS4nAzMjBW1Dw9DOs-CuvCDSY"

Here the website is accessed with a variable called "fbclid" and a unique identifier Key is added.

"fbclid" is the variable name for Facebooks very own Ad tracking.

In other words: By sharing this link, and having people go onto that Link with that ID, you are helping Facebook to EARN MONEY. NYPOST paid for an ad, the id of which was used to access their news story, thus generating income for Facebook.

Not only is facebook earning money, it is also tracking your very own surfing behavior. 

Apparently Facebook added this tracker in 2018.

But this is not the main reason for this thread.
 
There is also another thing to watch out for:

Affiliate links.

What are affiliate links?

Many websites, Amazon included, offer an affiliate service that allows website owner to place advertising on their website that links to products on the website the advertisment is for. These links contain a so called affiliate id. Using this id Amazon, for example, can exactly track who contributed which visitors. 

If a visitor on amazon buys a product while on an affiliate link, that sale is credited and the affiliate is paid a commission.
There are people on the internet that make their whole living this way, earning thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars just on affiliate commissions.
 
Now, there is nothing wrong with that, if you support the person or cause that earns the money. 

But sometimes you may stumble upon a link that would earn someone money that you would not want to earn something from your activity.
 
Please have a look at this guide to know how to spot such affiliate links:

https://yourconsumerguide.co.uk/2018/01/07/spot-affiliate-marketing/

They usually use a "?" operator with an affiliate id behind it such as "affid", "aff", or "ref". (Amazon uses "ref")

How to spot affiliate marketing and why it matters. | Your Consumer GuideYour Consumer Guide

RMTS  represents a gold mine for affiliate marketers and ad trackers. 

But one might still, inadvertently, bring in links that generate revenue for other websites, organizations, companies, persons, etc.

And often this revenue is generated for "the other side", or those who you would not want earning off of your activity online.

So if you want to avoid this, when sharing links, make sure there is no "?" operator towards the end of the link or that it ends with ".html".

You also often see the "?" operator right after the usual ".html" ending. If that is the case, just delete everything after the ".html", and it will still bring you to the website, WITHOUT all the ad or affiliate tracking.
 
Other articles of interest:
 
https://www.sciencealert.com/a-tech-expert-says-we-should-stop-using-google-chrome

https://www.wired.com/story/google-tracks-you-privacy/

attached is a PDF copy of this
« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 11:42:50 PM by Nate »
Mike
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Offline cruizng

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Re: Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2019, 07:41:58 AM »
Looks good.

Thanks Nate!

 :likebutton:
Mike
Sold the DMax in MN and am currently vehicle less.

Offline Nate

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Re: Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2019, 08:57:07 AM »
No problem
Nate

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Offline cj7ox

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Re: Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 02:12:51 PM »
Now that was an eye opening read. Thanks for posting!
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Offline Flyin6

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Re: Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 09:02:29 AM »
Now that was an eye opening read. Thanks for posting!
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Offline CSM

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Re: Something to think about when posting links to other websites
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2019, 09:39:42 AM »
Good information and very well written... thanks for sharing !!

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