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The NSA Collection Dredged Up Quite A Scare Concerning Social Networks

I don’t think people realized until the recent NSA data collection scare how much of their private information is exposed online. People also seem to have forgotten that Facebook, Google, YouTube, and other networks have been collecting personal information from people for years.

Some people might notice if they at least skim over the headlines of the terms and conditions posted when they sign up to websites. Most people don’t read them because they are usually always way too long—which sometimes I just don’t understand.

Still, I’m surprised people would be so careless when going online. After all, most sites you sign onto not only provide a long list of terms and conditions but also a pop-up summary of them. However, I think maybe people don’t realize what they are getting into even if they do carefully peruse the online terms document word for word.

A Review Of What Data Is Collected

For people who don’t know exactly what kind of data is collected, they can look on the “Terms and Conditions” and/or “Privacy Policy” pages of most legitimate websites. More specifically, Facebook calls it the “Data Usage Policy,” and Google calls it the “Privacy and Terms” sections, which is made up of both terms of use as well as privacy conditions. However, we might as well be talking about Yelp,, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other popular site. They may not all have exactly the same rules, but they all have one thing in common. These sites at least let people know what they are committing to when they register.

This is a summary of the kind of data collected and stored by websites:

  • Internet ip address
  • GPS location (unless given the option to disallow it)
  • Website browsing history if the site has specific social plug-ins installed
  • Advertiser information
  • E-mail address, phone numbers, and more (usually when registering)

Domains Most “Picked On” After NSA Scare

Ever since information about how some of the NSA data collected was allegedly misused, popular domains have received quite a bit of wrath. Some of this concern is righteous anger if we really stop to think about it. After all, what business is it where we go online?

On the other hand, it can help stop crime and further target advertisement campaigns. The domains that seem to be most picked on right now is Facebook, Google, and You Tube.

However, it’s not just these three sites. Almost all websites that require registration to view require that we reveal our personal information when we sign up.

No Registration Required? We’re Still Exposed!

We’ve all been to the sites where no registration is required. However, sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that we are hidden. The owner of that site still keeps track of ip address, GPS location, and more. They know when people visit again even if they don’t offer a name, address, phone number, e-mail, etc.

Sometimes websites might even be able to figure out who their supposedly “anonymous” site visitors are without collecting personal data via a web form. All they have to do is plant cookies that track wherever that site visitor goes.

Prevention Of Total Exposure

Chrome In Private browsing or new measures enacted by Firefox may help. On Internet Explorer, Safari, and other browsers users are able to have some control over what data is shared. I say share the minimum required to access useful site tools, and no more.

By Erin Walsh

Guest Author: Erin Walsh is the Director of Public Relations for Boost Software. Working for a software company means that we must stay updated on all of the latest issues in privacy and Internet surfing. Stay on top of all the Internet security issues and feel free to ask questions when you visit her blog at

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