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The Advertisers are Watching You

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the zip-it-up-buddy dept.

The Internet 155

pcause noted that the New York Times is running a story about the information being collected about you by internet advertisers. Of course much of this is not news to you, but it's important that the mainstream media is more aware of the issues surrounding this.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

You may be surprised who is involved (4, Interesting)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700680)

Sounds like the 4th largest bank in the U.S. [wachovia.com] exposing me to no less than 12 single pixel tracking images from the likes of doubleclick, ru4, advertising.com etc. when I want to login followed by tracking by an outside source [hitbox.com] while using the "secure" area of the site(hooray for AdBlock). I complained and complained. I finally received a response from the office of CEO Ken Thompson telling me to piss up a rope. I am no longer a customer.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22700806)

In Soviet Russia you watch the advertisers! Wait, that doesn't sound quite right...

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701122)

The poor Russians don't have Tivo yet?

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (0, Redundant)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701204)

I think me meant, "On communist internet, macines watch you."

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701228)

Was it an email response? I'd love to see it.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (3, Interesting)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701332)

No, it was a real letter of all things. Maybe I should scan it and post it when I get home.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701472)

If you don't mind, I for one would be interested to see it.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701500)

It will be a couple of days. I'm in Turkey right now. Once it is available I'll let you know.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701674)

i'd like to know too, i never noticed that (adblock++)

Goatseman, I choose you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701378)

Gaping anus attack! [twofo.co.uk]

You nerds love it. What would slashdot be without the trolls?

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Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701398)

I finally received a response from the office of CEO Ken Thompson telling me to piss up a rope.

If the inventor of B and UNIX tells you to piss up a rope, then piss up a rope dammit!

Not surprised (1)

fropenn (1116699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702050)

In the past few weeks I viewed the movie, "Enron: the Smartest guys in the room" (http://www.enronmovie.com/ [enronmovie.com] ), and I also did some research on the current mortgage crisis that is a big part of the reason the U.S. economy has slowed and possibly even moved into a recession (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis [wikipedia.org] ).

In both cases, banks played a major role - they smelled money, got greedy, and behaved unethically. In the case of the mortgage crisis many of the banks are now suffering the consequences (anyone own Citibank stock?), but it pointed out clearly to me that banks, despite their flashy and heartwarming adds, are rarely watching out for your personal interests and really just want your money.

Re:You may be surprised who is involved (1)

JDWTopGuy (209256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702234)

I'd love to see that response, do you have it to post?

The letter from Wachovia (1)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702518)

As soon as I am back in the States (Wednesday) I'll scan it. I'll post a link as a reply to the parent, so subscribe to it if you're interested.

Mainstrem media attention not "important" or good (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700690)

It's not good news that the mainstream media has picked it up, because they just use if for a lot of sensationalist fear-mongering that only serves to scare the uninformed public even more. I was watching CSPAN this morning and they were talking about this. People were calling in who obviously had no clue about the internet saying things like "My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this" and talking out of their asses.

Stuff like this doesn't really inform the general public, it only frightens them and makes them even more irrational. It's like the occassional story about the kidnapped kid or terrorist attack that causes everyone to freak out and start demanding irrational laws.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (3, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700910)

My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this
We can't even get our secretary to order things online using the company card - We have to go to another group's purchaser if we want to use a vendor that won't accept phone orders.

At the risk of straying off-topic, I'd like to see a "mainstream media" story about the different security risks/exposures between internet purchases, phone purchases, and in-store purchases. Tracking behavior is certainly easier online, but cutting people out of the loop does good things for security. Although imperfect, I trust automated billing a lot more than inmates working phone banks or high-schoolers swiping cards at their summer employment and throwing away paper receipts.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (1)

calyphus (646665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703556)

We can't even get our secretary to order things online using the company card
Hmm, you've got an employee who refuses to use a company asset for an intended use (online purchases); willfully shirking a job responsibility. Instead of correcting the problem by replacing the incompetent employee, you allow them to require excess work from you to accomplish company goals. Sucker!

Who's in charge? You or "your" secretary?

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22704062)

Who's in charge? You or "your" secretary?
Neither - Our boss. But, between she and I, she probably has more pull because she can foul up more things that I need than vice versa (scheduling meeting rooms, shipping packages, handling orders, etc.)

Unfortunately, in some arenas, replacing employees who aren't doing their jobs can be very difficult. So, even when they're blatantly ignoring or refusing their duties, they stay in place.

Welcome to the government...

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (2, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701714)

"My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this" and talking out of their asses.


Yet, I can almost guarantee these are the same people who have no problem with the government wiretapping their phones without a warrant, or having a National ID card or any of the other means of tracking and doing away with ones privacy that this administration (and others) have come up with all the name of supposed "security". After all, if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't worry about the government tracking you or listening in on your phone calls.

So yes, these people are talking out their asses but that doesn't mean the media attention is a bad thing. If it gets people to be more aware of their online privacy, and privacy in general, then this will have been a good thing.

Besides, the easiest way to combat this is to get Firefox or other non-Microsoft browser, and have them auto-delete your cookies and cache every time you close the browser. Problem solved. The advertisers can bite my shiny metal ass if it screws up their ability track and categorize how many people revisit sites. To them, I'm always a new user.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703772)

Unless they track you by IP address. Then you are only new if you restart your modem.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (1)

bfizzle (836992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701866)

The best part is the "main stream media" needs this extensive tracking in order to provide better context sensitive advertising to boost profits and stay alive in this still new to them online world.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (2, Informative)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701938)

Stuff like this doesn't really inform the general public, it only frightens them and makes them even more irrational. It's like the occassional story about the kidnapped kid or terrorist attack that causes everyone to freak out and start demanding irrational laws.


I agree it's not a case for more stupid laws, but it needs to be said, to be brought out into the light. The truth is that online advertisers do everything they can to track people online. How many of the regular people are aware of it? Even nerds can miss out. How many of you, faithful Slashdot readers, know about the so called "Flash cookies" [epic.org] and how you're probably being tracked with them right now? Or other insidious tracking methods?

From a tehnical point of view it's easy to dismiss things. They have simple explanations. Browsers should come by default configured with high privacy options. When you install an external browser plugin it's common sense that the plugin may do whatever it pleases. Let's use AdBlock. But these are in no way obvious things for 90% of Internet users. And if someone is watching them wherever they go online I think they should know and learn how to protect themselves.

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (3, Insightful)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702848)

How can we educate the general public into being able to raise their voices against something like Phorm [phorm.com] without scaring the crap out of them?

Once you know that every character in your page request has been sent through an adware service, you kinda lose control of your bowels ...

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703700)

Are you implying that Phorm is the exact opposite of what they claim to be? I'd never heard of them and would be wary of any company offering "privacy", but that charge is pretty strong (not that I would doubt it for a second).

Re:Mainstrem media attention not "important" or go (2, Informative)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703796)

Replying to self:

It seems you are right. I'm not surprised as this kind of cynical lying, but it really is sad nonetheless.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080309-bad-phorm-uk-isps-to-sell-clickstream-data-to-advertisers.html [arstechnica.com]
http://www.badphorm.co.uk/ [badphorm.co.uk]

That may be... (3, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700694)

But i'm not watching them. Thanks Adblock!

Re:That may be... (2, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701070)

Thanks Adblock!
I also use Adblock (I'm sure that a lot of this audience does), but try to use it responsibly. If you completely Adblock pages that you like that rely largely in ad revenue to stay afloat, you are ensuring that the level of service will degrade or that other (possibly more invasive) methods of generating revenue will be implemented. For sites you want to keep going (e.g. slashdot), especially ones with well-targeted ads, remember the white-list option.

Every time you Adblock slashdot, the gods flip a bit on your hard drive.

Re:That may be... (2, Informative)

notque (636838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701156)

I disagree. Screw all advertising. It's intention is to delude you into purchasing something on issues aside from the products qualities.

Advertising is intended to lie to me. I refuse to spend time listening to known liars.

Re:That may be... (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701486)

It's intention is to delude you into purchasing something on issues aside from the products qualities.
I feel filthy standing up for advertisers - Ads have become a blemish on the planet and I'm sick of being attacked in every possible venue by random images telling me that I need random things. In fact, I'm of the opinion that prescription drug ads should be illegal.

However, I still think it's a little inaccurate to say that all ads are trying to get you to buy something based "on issues aside from the products qualities". That's often true - Fear-mongering / Band-wagon attacks / etc are common. But ads do exist that do nothing more than try to make you aware of a product's qualities rather than trying to delude you.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying...

Re:That may be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701622)

I'm not saying, I'm just saying...
That's the title of one of the greatest albums in the history of Canadian electronic music
Shoud Out Out Out Out - Not Saying / Just Saying [amazon.ca] .

Re:That may be... (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701692)

I wish I had mod points, if only for the idea of banning prescription drug advertisements. That makes more sense than anything I've heard here in a long time.

Re:That may be... (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702030)

In fact, I'm of the opinion that prescription drug ads should be illegal.

This is such an excellent point. I agree, there really is not good, ethical point to having drugs advertised to common people. My doctor knows exactly what drugs should be prescribed based on my condition. Most people don't have the knowledge to know what's best for them based on an ad. To go along with your point, it should also be illegal to offer kickbacks to doctors for prescribing certain drugs.

Back on topic, I think a certain amount of ads are ok for promoting product awareness only. What I hate are the ads which try to use statistics to state their products worth (9 out of 10 dentists, etc) because we all know it's lies. There should also be laws against plastering ads on every single visible surface available. I live in the Detroit area, and our whaling wall [wikipedia.org] is now completely covered by a Cadillac ad. This not only covers up a great piece of art that people can no longer enjoy, but it is a complete insult to the artist.

Re:That may be... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702658)

Fear-mongering / Band-wagon attacks / etc are common. But ads do exist that do nothing more than try to make you aware of a product's qualities rather than trying to delude you.

Such as?

There's always going to be some spin in marketing. Even a 100% factual bullet point technology brief from a manufacturer can be spun. Suppose you're comparing product A and product B, sure product B might have feature Y, but how much does that matter? Throw enough trivial features on that list and product B starts looking a lot better, even though those features aren't really important for your application and product A is a lot cheaper.

Re:That may be... (2, Funny)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702286)

Advertising is intended to lie to me.
Only on TV and radio. And in magazines. And movies. And at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts and written on the sky. But not in dreams. No siree!

Re:That may be... (3, Insightful)

Mox-Dragon (87528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701174)

I use adblock, too, and in the time before I did, I *never* clicked on an online ad. Not once. Nor can I imagine a situation in which I would. ever. So why shouldn't I adblock not only slashdot, but every website?

Re:That may be... (4, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701366)

So why shouldn't I adblock not only slashdot, but every website?
I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.

Feel free to correct me if anyone has actual knowledge/data. I reject the argument that white-listing is stupid because advertisers suck - I know they do but, if they pay sites I like to provide content to me without forcing me to subscribe, I'll put up with them. But, if white-listing slashdot (et al.) really does not help them at all, then I'll clean out my white-list.

Re:That may be... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701918)

I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.


Then their model is flawed. Personally, I don't like the idea of being passively influenced like that. I'd feel much better about my purchases if I knew my decisions were based on my own research than some subliminal message.

Feel free to correct me if anyone has actual knowledge/data. I reject the argument that white-listing is stupid because advertisers suck - I know they do but, if they pay sites I like to provide content to me without forcing me to subscribe, I'll put up with them. But, if white-listing slashdot (et al.) really does not help them at all, then I'll clean out my white-list.


I do believe that WE are providing the majority of content for Slashdot. That's the web 2.0 model: "You create the content, we collect the revenue." :-)

-matthew

Re:That may be... (2, Funny)

Mox-Dragon (87528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702124)

I do believe that WE are providing the majority of content for Slashdot.


Seriously. I've been waiting for a check for like, five years now. All of those adblocking slashdot readers must be interfering with my revenue stream.

Re:That may be... (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702830)

I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.

I don't know the specifics for Slashdot, but, click-through is one of many ways of advertising. Impressions alone (e.g. targeted viewing) are a important market as well (branding).

I use AdMuncher for my adblocking, including those here on Slashdot. While I do feel guilty about blocking those ads, surfing without an Adblocker for an hour cures that. I do not want to look at obtrusive ads with some scattered content around them. I don't want to look for content buried in dozens of ads which aren't even remotely targeted. If I want an Attention Deficit Disorder, I'll order it myself, no need for advertisers to do it for me.

I do want to look at content and I may want to looks sideways/beneath to see if there are any interesting products/services they aren't/should be aware of.

AFAIK, online advertisers have gone too far and content providers seem careless and indifferent when it comes to their audience.

clueless reporter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701202)

$$These companies often connect consumer data to unique codes identifying their computers$$

You mean, like, cookies maaaaaaaaaan? Sounds like this reporter doesn't know tracking from munchies, time to lay off the bong. No wonder newspapers are going down the tubes, they think they still have a monopoly on eyeballs.

My hosts file has more than 16,000 entries, updated monthly. My fellow employees always experience a shock when they use somebody else's computer, where did all the ads come from?

Re:That may be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701234)

Those are cosmic rays. Both come from above, but cosmic rays have more of an impact on your life.

Re:That may be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701630)

Sorry, if the site needs money to have a life, then get it from another source than ads. If slashdot needs money to live, then the users must pay. Ads are a bad way of earning money.

Re:That may be... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701804)

Ads are a bad way of earning money.

Tell that to google.

Re:That may be... (4, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701766)

I also use Adblock (I'm sure that a lot of this audience does), but try to use it responsibly. If you completely Adblock pages that you like that rely largely in ad revenue to stay afloat, you are ensuring that the level of service will degrade or that other (possibly more invasive) methods of generating revenue will be implemented. For sites you want to keep going (e.g. slashdot), especially ones with well-targeted ads, remember the white-list option.


I still don't get the supposed benefit of "well-targeted" ads. Every time I hear that phrase I think of the book/movie Minority Report.

As for sites like slashdot shutting down... meh. I like slashdot and all, but quite frankly, if it went under because a few people who don't like to see ads block them, then so be it. There was an internet before massive amounts of advertising. There will continue to be an internet with massive amounts of ad blocking. If they invent more invasive methods, we'll block those too and you suckers who feel morally obligated to look at them will just have to suck it up.

-matthew

Re:That may be... (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702094)

What is likely to happen is that more and more sites will go to flash/silverlight and the like. They'll likely say it is because it offers browser independence, and an enriched user experience, but I suspect that it will be mostly because then they control your content - and will be able to add ads wherever they want and you'll have little choice but to watch them (until someone invents an ad skipper, of course). Already there are lots of flash sites that make you sit through ads before and while you view the content.

you're blocking Flash cookies, aren't you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22702482)

Flash places cookies on your computer, I bet you didn't know that. Right click on your next Flash experience on YouTube and tell me what you find. You can also Google for > adobe flash cookies to pick up the global settings.

Never knew about them until I went to Pandora a second time, how in hell did they remember my preferences after 6 months? I used Spotlight (yay Mac) on those artists, and low and behold, some funny files popped up.

I'm sure MS SilverBlight does the same.

Re:That may be... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703326)

What is likely to happen is that more and more sites will go to flash/silverlight and the like.


If it goes that way, I doubt it would have anything to do with ad blocking. From what I understand, advertisers generally don't see ad blocking (on the web) as a big problem.

They'll likely say it is because it offers browser independence, and an enriched user experience, but I suspect that it will be mostly because then they control your content - and will be able to add ads wherever they want and you'll have little choice but to watch them (until someone invents an ad skipper, of course). Already there are lots of flash sites that make you sit through ads before and while you view the content.


I can't imagine a site like Slashdot going Flash/Silverlight. It isn't very conducive to interactive sites with lots of user generated content.

-matthew

Re:That may be... (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702514)

The difference is that Slashdot doesn't have "massive amounts of advertising". The front page has exactly 1 ad on each page. If that's too much for you, then fine. But I find it to be unobtrusive, and a very good way at generating cash. People are probably far more likely to remember and click on an ad, when they only see a single advertisement.

Re:That may be... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703566)

The difference is that Slashdot doesn't have "massive amounts of advertising". The front page has exactly 1 ad on each page. If that's too much for you, then fine. But I find it to be unobtrusive, and a very good way at generating cash. People are probably far more likely to remember and click on an ad, when they only see a single advertisement.


The interesting (great, really) thing about AdBlock Plus is that it is a lot easier to block nearly every ad than it is to selectively block. Even if the ads on Slashdot are not massive, why would I could out of my way to whitelist them? It just doesn't make any sense.

-matthew

Re:That may be... (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702756)

The Minority Report nightmare isn't that the ads are targeted, but that they are numerous and intrusive. Ads can be targeted without being intrusive-- Google's built an entire company on that concept.

Re:That may be... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22704248)

The Minority Report nightmare isn't that the ads are targeted, but that they are numerous and intrusive.


It is all three, IMO. How creepy would it be for an ad to call you by name and know more than it should about your personal life? Even if it was just once a day and relatively subtle. Like maybe you're on the bus and hear a hushed voice come from behind the seat, "Psst! Hey Matt. Wouldn't a Whopper sound good right about now? We know you like to eat lunch at around this time and there is a Burger King about one block from the next bus stop. Enjoy." Not intrusive. Not numerous, but targeted and really creepy.

Ads can be targeted without being intrusive-- Google's built an entire company on that concept.


They can be, but it depends on how a site implements them. One site I remember, for example, from back before I got fed up with ads had a Google ad between every other blog comment. No, it wasn't intrusive in the sense of being flashy and "in your face," but it was definitely an eyesore and a total waste of page real estate.

Re:That may be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22702976)

I still don't get the supposed benefit of "well-targeted" ads. Every time I hear that phrase I think of the book/movie Minority Report.
Actually it makes me think of jokes about artillery in WW2 films...

Re:That may be... (3, Interesting)

srh2o (442608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701994)

You do what you want... but don't try to tell me that I'm not using Adblock "responsibly" The advertisers had their chance with me. What I got was pop-overs, pop-unders, drive by installs and more impressions of X10 cameras than I will ever care about. I got ads that blocked the content, that played loud sounds, that floated all over the page. Adblock is a response to irresponsible behavior by the advertisers. I use it and I use it on full. There was content before the ads and there will be content after the ads. There won't be subscriptions, because that is the kiss of death for a content provider on the internet. But by all means go ahead and whitelist if you wish. As for me I'm done with the constant barrage of ads. 90% of them are from spammy, sketchy vendors that I would never buy from anyway.

Sites that want to make ad revenue work need to rethink their usage and their suppliers. Ads can be successful and desirable. If you doubt that take a look at the average Sunday paper. I purchase that each Sunday and pay more for it BECAUSE of the ads. Talk about a successful model. Content providers are going to need to provide something more than your second hand guilt argument to get me to turn off Adblock and they have no one to blame but themselves.

And??? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700718)

Of course much of this is not news to you
Brought to you by /.--News for Nerds

Get it over with... (0, Troll)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700742)

Cue the 47 "but I use AdBlock" posts that have to appear in every single goddamned Slashdot story that has anything to do remotely with web advertising. Or the web in general.

Yes, yes, we all get it, we all know AdBlock exists, now shut up and let's have an actual discussion.

Re:Get it over with... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22700840)

There exists a solution to this problem and lots of people are happily enjoying it. Cue the bitches who say "there's only one way to have an actual discussion, and that's my way".

Re:Get it over with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701194)

Bravo! For an AC getting a non-negative score is actually something against the ./ system.

Before: AC and registered began with same score
Now: AC begins with -1
Future: AC begins with -1 and no one is allowed to vote for them

Too bad AC posts get collapsed automatically. And hidden.

Re:Get it over with... (2, Interesting)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700884)

Maybe the point is that if everyone used adblock we would't worry ourselves with discussions about online advertising?

Re:Get it over with... (1)

onetwentyone (882404) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701184)

That is exactly the point. I work in advertising/marketing as a web designer and, honestly, as much as I would love for people to see the work I've done, when I'm browsing around online there are much more important things for me to looking at then ads. Thankfully I haven't had to produce too many of those over the years and, quite frankly, we all know pages load faster when they don't have to ping some other server to get the advertisement.

Re:Get it over with... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701302)

Yes, we'd all be too busy paying subscription fees for our suddenly much smaller lists of online services.

Re:Get it over with... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701784)

Yeah, I use adblock because, ever since I got rid of my TV [theonion.com] , I can't stand advertisements. I'm glad I'm free of the idiot box!

Mainstream Media have done it for years (1)

puto (533470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700822)

Gee the mainstream media aware of this issue, one which they are ultimately responsible for? 1. Newspapers and magazines - You gave them all your demographic information in their questionaires and quizzes and contests for years. 2. Nielsen boxes on televisions. 3. Even voting by phone for american idol, and even when Star Search did it. 4. Those annoying survey questions you used to get when you called for a service, to pay a bill. Etc. Mainstream media is feeling the hurt of the internet still and looking to throw stones anyway they can. I guarantee the mainstream media has more data on you than any internet company.

Re:Mainstream Media have done it for years (1)

lbk70 (1229872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701236)

Don't forget about the cable tv boxes you rent tracking your viewing habits. This was the primary reason I only used "Basic Cable" until I was basically bullied into getting a box to get *any* cable service.

I see dead ads (4, Insightful)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700838)

If they are watching, why is it that I never see any "targeted" adverts? TV can be excused for just throwing everything into the aether and hoping that something sticks, but on the web why do I see all kinds of ads in which I have no interest in at all?

Re:I see dead ads (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701346)

How dare you question the advertising executives?!? They know what you need regardless of whether you think you need it or not, and you will be served those ads!

Re:I see dead ads (1)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701584)

In my area we have Time Warner Cable. The injected commercials are for Comcast's targeted advertising ads. They want to advertise specifics 'to the rights customers'. Then after that ad is usually an advertisement for Time Warner's Digital Cable service, which is what I have else I would not be watching the ad about the service...

Re:I see dead ads (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701670)

Are you sure? Do you think you get all those Viagra and big dick ads by accident?

Re:I see dead ads (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701764)

I think for the most part they're tracking general tendencies. What topics come up most often in search boxes. Which links do users follow the most on our website. What kinds of products do users look at on each visit (used often on sites like Amazon with their "other people also looked at these things" ads). I suppose they could track your surfing habits on their site if you create an account there and login regularly. Beyond that it's just cookies, you can set most browsers to delete them automatically on close. I don't see why this is such a big topic on the internet. The same thing has been happening for years now with those membership cards in most supermarkets, warranty cards, credit cards and so on. If you keep getting "pre-approved" credit cards in the mail it's because your credit bureau has been whoring your information out to the highest bidder, you can usually 'opt out' [creditinfocenter.com] of things like this.

Re:I see dead ads (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701832)

They can't advertise anything that's illegal. Pervert.

Mythbusters videos (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703622)

That reminds me of surfing discovery.com/mythbusters and watching their video feeds. Between each clip you watch, you're presented with a short commercial. Most frequently it's for some kind of Oil of Olay product (seriously, wtf?). Based on even your personal best guess for MythBusters demographics, I'm sure we could agree that this kind of advertisement is sorely misplaced. Let's say that over 50% of the viewership are males (which seems an easy assumption to make), this ad is WAY off the mark.

My recent blog posting on the matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22700864)

It starts out as a detailed review of the iPhone compared to the Blackberry, but then I cover privacy in the Internet age also in depth:

http://suprablog.com/index.php/2008/03/09/the-iphone-blackberry-google-android-and-the-mobile-suprasphere/ [suprablog.com]

My general feeling is that we need to take a comprehensive view of privacy, not just with respect to advertising, or social networking, credit and health information. The general thesis is that possession is 99% of the law, and we need to create a place in the cloud where the individual can actually possess their data while still enabling all of these fantastic applications, coding privacy at an architectural level.

David

I see only dead companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22700956)

Cole Sear: I see dead advertising companies.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
Malcolm Crowe: While you're awake?
[Cole nods]
Malcolm Crowe: Dead advertsing and tracking companies like, they dont exist ?
Cole Sear: Walking around looking like regular companies. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead.
Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?
Cole Sear: All the time. They're everywhere.

http://hostsfile.mine.nu/hosts.zip [hostsfile.mine.nu]

But who will watch the Watchmen? (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22700992)

noui consilia et ueteres quaecumque monetis amici,
"pone seram, cohibe".
sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes
cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor


"I hear always the admonishment of my friends:
'Bolt her in, and constrain her!'
But who will watch the watchmen?
The wife arranges accordingly, and begins with them."

This removes annoyance (0)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701046)

If we allow ourselves to be watched it means we get less ads that do not interest us and more ads that might hold something interesting to us. In fact the web was the very last media to catch on to this and start targeting their ads, so I don't see the big fuss surrounding this ... don't you want not to be annoyed?

Just for example, have you ever seen a Persil commercial during a Formula One race on television? I'm guessing no.

Re:This removes annoyance (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701534)

I have no ads that interest me. Does this mean that if I allow myself to be watched I won't have to see any ads anymore, ever? As to your example; When the BBC stopped broadcasting Formula One, my only other choice was commercial television. I thought the first commercial break was a bit long, so I timed the second. I haven't watched Formula One since.

Cookies (1)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701166)

So, does deleting my cookies (please, no food jokes) on a regular basis, thwart their intentions, or are they sending home more traceable stuff, like the MAC address?

Re:Cookies (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701370)

Or you can do like me and have the browser prompt you every time it tries to set a cookie. Depending on what is sent, I can either allow always, allow as session, or block always.I very rarely allow always.

Re:Cookies (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702016)

That's a royal pain.

Just use the CookieSafe addon in Firefox. Will make your browsing infinitely easier, with no loss in flexibility.

Re:Cookies (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703902)

I feel prompting for cookies everytime I enter a new site a little intrusive.
There is a FF extension called Extended Cookie Manager that will take care of your cookies like noscript does.

Resuming the topic:
I'm using a cookie blocker (Extended Cookie Manager), content blocker (adblock) and javascript blocker (noscript).

Javascript and Cookies are denied by default.
Content is allowed unless I explicitly block it.
They all have icons on the bottom-right corner of firefox for quick management.

Ads? Cookie tracking? What's that?

Re:Cookies (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702196)

One thing that people don't clear as often as cookies is the Flash Shared Object repository. A lot of advertisers use this to store persistent user data in lieu of cookies to monitor viewer activities.

I personally use two ways to block this. First is NoScript which is a must have companion to Adblock. Adblock stops the known stuff, NoScript stops the unknown stuff.

Second, on Windows, I deleted the Flash Player folder in Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Macromedia, and created a text file with the exact same name as the folder. This makes the Flash player unable to write any persistent data to disk. However, this does sometimes mess up sites like YouTube which store legit preferences.

Third, I run a utility called ccleaner (used to be called Crap Cleaner) which is great for removing random junk left over in Windows apps.

This is not perfect, but good for most sites. If you want better security, consider running your Web browser in a VM that dumps all changes since a known good snapshot. I do this for some entertainment Flash sites because I don't feel like allowing, even temporarily, all the data mining companies write access to my machine.

Re:Cookies (1)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702728)

Thanks. I do some of that, but the text file idea is great. I'll try setting up the VM as well.

Re:Cookies (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22703516)

Finally, if this is a concern, there is always the IP address which advertisers can use to correlate information.

This can be fixed by using an anonymous service provider, or if you have access to a company or campus network, VPN in and browse from there.

Of course, there is TOR, but the advantage of an anonymous service provider or a corporate VPN is that you have a reliable, persistent connection. I try to save the TOR bandwidth for those who really need it.

Advertisers Are Watching Me? (2, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701198)

Advertisers Are Watching Me?
        And yet I am not watching them as they present no more significance than a sparrow watching me and inspire no more interest than a slug.

 

...said the site with doubleclick. (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701270)

In Soviet Russia, you... oh wait. That's not right.

Re:...said the site with doubleclick. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22702204)

In Soviet Russia, you... oh wait. That's not right.
On Slashdot, humor escapes you.

In Soviet Russia... (0, Redundant)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701286)

... you watch advertisers.

Privacy is the next killer ap (2, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701296)

The person who makes privacy as easy and intuitive as Google search will make a bundle. The public isn't ready yet, but when the time comes, the market for privacy will be huge.

Re:Privacy is the next killer ap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22701860)

Ctrl+Shift+Del

Re:Privacy is the next killer ap (2, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702516)

Well in the mean time; do this;

  - use Firefox.
  - use Adblock. Constantly update it. Mercilessly add all sites that push annoying, irrelevant ads onto your screen.
  - regularly clear your cookies. Block any cookie forever from any website you don't immediately recognise.
  - use NoScript. Honestly, you'll be amazed by the source of all the scripts that attempt to run on your computer. How many of them do you care about?
  - lie on every stupid compulsory registration you encounter. If you have no immediate interest in entering a business arrangement with them, they often have no legitimate reason for demanding you answer these intrusive questions. Lie. Tell them you're a 80 year old widow from Vietnam (always good, they don't appear to be able to verify Zip/Post codes) with an interest in snowboards. That'll look good on their graphs. Tell the next website a completely different story.

This will blow your mind. (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701422)

From TFA: So anybody who searches for information on such disparate topics as iron supplements, airlines, hotels and soft drinks may see ads for those products and services later on.

What if I search for AdBlocker and NoScript? Will I see ads for those products? Can a Firefox ad-blocking add-on be so awesome that it cannot block ads from itself? Whoa.

Hosts file (1)

zhrike (448699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701452)

One thing I do in an attempt to mitigate the ubiquity of ads is to simply redirect the domains to localhost.

On my macs, linux, unix (mostly solaris) boxes, and windows. This means that instead of ads I get "Unable to connect ..."
errors, but I much prefer those blocks. Additionally, I notice that ad sites delay the loads of many pages, thus redirecting
them to localhost speeds up browsing.

I know most of us know where the hosts files lie on most systems, but for those who don't:

OS X: /private/etc/hosts

Unix/Linux: /etc/hosts

Windows: [root drive]:\{windows directory}\system 32\drivers\etc\hosts

Devil's Advocate (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701742)

Relevant Ad targeting is in many ways a good thing. I cannot stand to watch TV because of the commercials, but the commercials are for things that I will never be in the market for as a man living in NYC such as feminine hygiene products or cars, cars, cars. If, however, the commercials were for, I dunno, home energy kits or wearable computing, I just might watch them.

That in turn helps the websites like Slashdot and Tom's Hardware that are not for mass-market media consumers to make enough money in ad revenue to operate, because high-degrees of targeting and great click-throughs mean you can make more money with a smaller total audience. That's good, because I like Slashdot and Tom's Hardware and don't want them to go away.

It's also good for technological innovation and entrepreneurship, because you can get more bang for your advertising buck if you can tightly target your fancy new, say, cybernetic implant to the transhumanist crowd.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702344)

In some ways, targeted ads are good for that. However, the same information gathered up by advertisers to pitch something you are interested in can easily be used for not so good purposes. Employers can use that information as criteria for promoting or laying off, people that are on the opposite side in a court case can obtain that information and use it against you in court, or it can be used for criminal proceedings later on.

Targeted ads can be put together with other pieces of information by criminals to build a profile of someone they want to attack, either by identity theft, or just outright extortion.

Until there is a global treaty, that guards privacy multi-nationally, similar to how WIPO guards IP, then I just do not trust advertisers at all with any information. If privacy laws are put in place with civil/criminal consequences if breached (similar to statues in Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA), then it will be a different issue. There are just too many laptops floating around out there with too much sensitive information and no TrueCrypt, EncFS, glbd, or FileVault present to guard that data as of now, so I try to make sure as little info as possible from me winds up on those.

Cookie sessions (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22701786)

And that's why, children, I keep my cookies only for one browsing session.

I don't really want them to find out about my foot-fetish ;)

Re:Cookie sessions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22703142)

Browsing Session? That implies that at some point you close your browser. I don't understand...

Use a tracker filter (2, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702130)

There's a special filter subscription for Adblock Plus to kill a lot of that tracking
stuff (webbugs, tracking scripts, etc.), the "ABP Tracking Filter" [adblockplus.org] (see #3 on the left).

This of course doesn't make you anonymous online at all, but it helps against the worst
offenders and keeps your data out of their DBs.

(Full disclosure: I am a co-author of that list)

They are training us all (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702280)

So when the aliens come...

"We come in peace. We offer you peace, technology, knowledge..."
"Yeah, why don't you shut up already. What's wrong with my Adblock?"

What the web browser really should do is ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22702494)

... block all attempts to access any objects that go "offsite". That would be defined this way. Take the hostname of the web site being visted (the top document), removing the "www" part, if present. Take the hostname of the object being referenced, removing the "www" part, if present. If the name of the object ends with the name of the site (for example "images.slashdot.org" referenced by "slashdot.org"), then it's a match and the object can be processed. If not, give the user an alert in the tab bar that "offsite" objects are being referenced. Allow the user to permit specific hostnames to be referenced by specific sites.

This won't solve it all. It is a start. It can still be abused by the site owner creating hostnames that refer to tracking services. Future additions to this protection can also do things like check IP addresses. If the reverse DNS of different IP addresses have common domain names, they can be allowed together. Or maybe even require the different IP addresses be "close" in the same subnet (e.g. have the same NS records in the top level reverse DNS delegation).

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