Mental health information is deeply personal and private. The mere act of looking something up on the internet, the page that you view, the quiz that you take provides a wealth of information about you and your current state of mind. For example, if you look at a page about depression, followed by clicking on a forum called "I Hate My Life", then you are showing some significant signals that you may not want broadcast around to third parties, let alone ad companies that will use this information to target you with specific products. Should you assume that sites that make this their focal point should keep this information between you and them?\n\nWell, according to a study by Privacy International, it seems that a lot of these kinds of site may not take your privacy as seriously as you may hope. Trackers exist on many of these sites for Google, Facebook and Amazon, meaning that these companies can follow you around, ever wondered why your timeline started advertising certain things to you? If you are logged in, then you'll have a Cookie set in your browser such that when a request is sent to domains owned by these companies from your browser directed from these sites, they will uniquely know it is you. Not logged in, well they can probably use fingerprinting to identify you instead.\n\nCertain named websites store user scores and include them in the URL being shared with third parties, which is bad and leaks this data to monitoring software. Others directly send this data on, others use services that could replay the data entered by users. The UK NHS is mentioned as a culprit, which isn't a good look for them.\n\nPrivacy International: Your Mental Health for Sale\n\nRemember, installing trackers and the rest of the functionality I've mentioned can only be done intentionally. Do you know where your deeply private and personal information is going? It's a shame to me that this is happening, and again straight into AdTech allowing them some deeply personal insights into the lives of people that may not want to share this information. When you see those popup notices about privacy, actually read them to see what they want to share about you, and if you aren't comfortable, turn that rubbish off.\n\nThe lesson here is to be mindful of the sites that you visit and the applications that you use. There is no such thing as free, and if you are using these tools, YOU are the product as soon as you interact with it. Your interactions, your inputs, your results, your page views could be packaged up and sold and rubber stamped with your user profile. Many will be fine with this, but if you are privacy conscious, it pays to be wary of all of these tools. If you want to block these tracking scripts, there are plugins that enable you to do just that.\n\nPrivacy Badger\n\nGhostery\n\nIf you want more information regarding the techniques used to creep into your privacy, and/or want some further tips to stay safe online, have a read of the following articles that I have written previously. Hopefully these can help you surf the web in peace 😂!\n\n\n\nI Know what YOU Did Last Summer... Last Autumn, Last Christmas Heck Even Last Night 👀\n\nFive Ways to Stay Safe and Secure Online\n\nAll the best and take care, Si.