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Facebook And Google Know Your Porn History, Even When Watching In Incognito

by : Julia Banim on : 18 Jul 2019 17:23
Facebook And Google Know What Porn You're Watching Even In IncognitoFacebook And Google Know What Porn You're Watching Even In IncognitoPexels/Pornhub/Instagram

An academic study of 22,484 porn sites has found them to be riddled with web trackers, including trackers from Google, Facebook, and Oracle.

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This study, conducted by researchers from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania, found 93 per cent of pornographic web pages leaked data to third parties.

Out of the adult sites analysed, 74 per cent contained Google trackers, 24 per cent had Oracle trackers and 10 per cent had Facebook trackers. Apparently, individuals who use incognito mode to browse porn are still vulnerable to trackers leaking their data.

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According to this research, published in a forthcoming New Media & Society paper obtained by The New York Times, an alarming 17 per cent of the porn sites were found to be encrypted, leaving users at risk of being hacked.

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Lead study author Dr. Elena Maris – a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft – told The New York Times:

These porn sites need to think more about the data that they hold and how it’s just as sensitive as something like health information.

Protecting this data is crucial to the safety of its visitors. And what we’ve seen suggests that these websites and platforms might not have thought all of this through like they should have.

Dr. Maris added:

The fact that the mechanism for adult site tracking is so similar to, say, online retail should be a huge red flag.

This isn’t picking out a sweater and seeing it follow you across the web. This is so much more specific and deeply personal.

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Furthermore, this information is said to present a ‘unique and elevated risk’, with 45 per cent of the surveyed porn site URLs pointing to the nature of the pornographic content.

These URLs could reveal a person’s sexual preferences in a way which could be used against them, potentially endangering LGBTQ+ individuals in places where same sex relationships are illegal.

As written by the authors of the study:

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[E]veryone is at risk when such data is accessible without users’ consent, and thus can potentially be leveraged against them,

These risks are heightened for vulnerable populations whose porn usage might be classified as non-normative or contrary to their public life.

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A Google spokesperson told UNILAD:

We don’t allow Google Ads on websites with adult content and we prohibit personalised advertising and advertising profiles based on a user’s sexual interests or related activities online.

Additionally, tags for our ad services are never allowed to transmit personally identifiable information to Google.

UNILAD has reached out to Oracle and Facebook for comment.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Technology, Facebook, Google, Incognito

Credits

New Media & Society and 1 other
  1. New Media & Society

    Tracking sex: The implications of widespread sexual data leakage and tracking on porn websites

  2. The New York Times

    Google and Facebook Are Quietly Tracking You on Sex Websites