Google and Facebook's tracking software reportedly being deployed on porn sites

Of the 22,484 porn sites that were analysed, researchers found that 93 percent of them leak data to third parties.


You are keeping your passwords strong, you keep your Facebook setting strictly private, you are not granting access to a lot of third-party apps, but are you being as mindful about your privacy when visiting an adult website? If you said yes, think again!

A study has found that tracking software made by technology companies like Google and Facebook are deployed on thousands of adult websites. Of the 22,484 porn sites that were analysed, researchers found that 93 percent of them leak data to third parties, this includes when the websites are accessed via a browser’s 'incognito' mode. This could threaten a user's privacy as 45 percent of porn site URLs reportedly indicate the nature of the content that a user searches.

“Everyone is at risk when such data is accessible without users’ consent, and thus can potentially be leveraged against them,” the report reads. “These risks are heightened for vulnerable populations whose porn usage might be classified as non-normative or contrary to their public life.”

Google and Facebooks tracking software reportedly being deployed on porn sites

Representational image

Reportedly trackers made by Google and its subsidiaries appeared on 74 percent of the porn sites that were analysed, meanwhile, Google says that its software does not collect information that is used to build advertising profiles.

“We don’t allow Google Ads on websites with adult content and we prohibit personalized advertising and advertising profiles based on a user’s sexual interests or related activities online,” a Google spokeswoman told The New York Times.

Facebook's trackers were found on 10 percent of the over 22,000 sites that were examined, and the company also denied tracking any such information.

Further, the report suggests that the kind of information collected also varies. Sometimes it's something as basic as the type of web browser you’re using, or the kind of operating system you use, or even screen resolution that you have. And in some cases, the information taken could be more threatening, like your IP address or phone’s mobile identification number.

“The fact that the mechanism for adult site tracking is so similar to, say, online retail should be a huge red flag,” Elena Maris, the study’s lead author and a researcher at Microsoft, told The New York Times. “This isn’t picking out a sweater and seeing it follow you across the web. This is so much more specific and deeply personal.”

The purpose behind these trackers is always understood as a way to learn more about your preference — even if it's too personal and even if it's without your permission — to help companies serve ads on multiple websites. And even if the companies themselves aren't deliberating the connection between users’ porn habits to personalized advertising, there’s still a risk that such data could be misused by hackers.

Find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.