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Looking up symptoms online? These companies are tracking you

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posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 11:04 AM
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I know it comes as no surprise anymore about how much our privacy has been eroded away, but is there anything we hold sacred anymore? We're all like a bunch of open books walking around for everyone to read. Now, it seems that every time we do a search for a medical symptom online, that information is being tracked by a bunch of sites like Facebook and Pinterest.


It’s 2015—when we feel sick, fear disease, or have questions about our health, we turn first to the internet. According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online.
But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores.


Source

Every time you visit WebMD and put in a search for a certain illness or symptoms, that page is sent to many other corporate sites.


He found the results startling: a full 91 percent of the pages made what are known as third-party requests to outside companies. That means when you search for “cold sores,” for instance, and click the highly ranked “Cold Sores Topic Overview WebMD” link, the website is passing your request for information about the disease along to one or more (and often many, many more) other corporations.


And some more on how it works



“WebMD is basically calling up everybody in town and telling them that’s what you’re looking at”

Here’s what’s happening in a bit greater detail: Let’s say you make a search for “herpes.” Plugging that query into a search engine will return a list of results. Chances are, whatever site you choose to click on next will send information not just to the server of the intended site—say, the Centers for Disease Control, which maintains the top search result from Google—but to companies that own the elements installed on the page. Here’s why.

When you click that CDC link, you’re making a so-called “first party request.” That request goes to the CDC’s servers, and it returns the HTML file with the page you’re looking for. In this case, it’s “Genital Herpes – CDC Factsheet,” which is perhaps the page on the internet you’d least want anyone to know you’re looking at.

But because the CDC has installed Google Analytics to measure its traffic stats, and has, for some reason, included AddThis code which allows Facebook and Twitter sharing (beckoning the question of who socializes disease pages), the CDC also sends a third party request to each of those companies.

That request looks something like this—www.cdc.gov...—and makes explicit to those third party corporations in its HTTP referrer string that your search was about herpes.

Thus, Libert has discovered that the vast majority of health sites, from the for-profit WebMD.com to the government-run CDC.gov, are loaded with tracking elements that are sending records of your health inquiries to the likes of web giants like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest, and data brokers like Experian and Acxiom.

edit on 27-2-2015 by Rezlooper because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 11:07 AM
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a reply to: Rezlooper

And now that we have the mandatory sharing of every citizen's health records with the government (I still can't believe that happened), the possibilities for abuse, intentional or accidental, is staggering.
edit on 27-2-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)


+8 more 
posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: Rezlooper

Damn.

That's why all the dating sites started trolling me after I searched for penis reduction surgery.

Time for a mass protest. Everyone search for "ebola symptoms" at the same time.
edit on 27-2-2015 by InverseLookingGlass because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 11:40 AM
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originally posted by: InverseLookingGlass
a reply to: Rezlooper

Damn.

That's why all the dating sites started trolling me after I searched for penis reduction surgery.

Time for a mass protest. Everyone search for "ebola symptoms" at the same time.


Beat me to it.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 11:47 AM
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a reply to: greencmp

With health records and communication records all collected, imagine the amount of info they have stored on each and every one of us. Imagine what Google has on us. And what does Facebook or Pinterest need our health information for?



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 12:25 PM
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Maybe they want us to stop getting "free" internet advice so they can charge us for more doctor visits.

Tell everyone they are being watched doing something and that activity is sure to dry up on some level. Until they dump the whole internet in favor to returning to one sided, top down, information dissemination, thats the best they will be able to pull.

If you are on the internet everything you do is tracked, there and in the real world. So what?



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 12:30 PM
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As a cancer patient - none of this surprises me at all. I got the letter confirming that I had cancer on the same day I got junk mail for some scammy cancer treatment medical coverage deal. Coincidence? There are 4 adults here - one has cancer - one got that particular piece of junk mail. (Of course, while waiting for those test results - I was googling 'cancer' and related terms repeatedly).

The mailman now brings 8-10 such mailings a week. My personal favorite was the "win a free cremation" contest from some death monger who wants me to pay him NOW for the privilege of turning me into a double whopper with cheese when the time comes...unless I am the lucky winner of the freemation. On a practical level, I appreciate the sense of making arrangements beforehand, but somehow "register to win a free death" lack the same ring as "register to win a free cruise." Upon reflection, however, those two might not be as far apart as I think.

Folks - we have no privacy on these machines. We have millions of dollars, time and tricks spent to give us an illusion of privacy. But unless you are building your own machine - AND making your own chips to run it - you will be working with a piece of equipment that has every capability of turning your entire life over to any 12 year old with commitment, a keyboard and an Internet connection. Samsung smart TV? Lenovo hard drives? Frankly, if these revelations surprise you - hopefully it was only surprise that someone actually confessed to bugging us all, every day, every time we boot up.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 12:31 PM
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Hypochondriacs shouldn't look up illnesses. Its rather scary.

All the more reason to use duck duck go btw.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 12:31 PM
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I do a lot of research on Pharmaceuticals. When I research any drug at Pharma sites, I notice my spam reflects it. I also notice my ads are tailored to what I have just researched here on ATS. When I study the chemistry of drugs like cialis, like the blood pressure lowering effects, I get all these erectile disfunction ads.

Since I read so much research on biochemistry, I figure they must have a person working full time just trying to figure out what I am researching. I am not that far ahead with my research than what many others are, maybe just about a month or two usually, but I have one characteristic most don't have. An elephant never forgets. I layer all the information into my brain while most people forget it or can't correctly apply it. But even with all my knowledge, I can not tell anyone what they should do. All I can do is help educate them as to what the possible solution may be.

So them tracking me is worthless if I can't even apply this knowledge. I have more knowledge on some things than most people, including doctors and specialists, do. I realize why they do not mess with what I am studying, they have to work for a living. It is easier for them to just give pills out.

Have you noticed that antibiotics were supposed to be the best things medicine ever did and now they are finding out they made a mistake persuing this strategy. They have their place, but they have a lot of bad effects that they avoided testing of before. You can't make money if you research the problems your patent causes too well.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 12:45 PM
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a reply to: InverseLookingGlass

I have had the opportunity to spend more time today visiting ATS.

Are you always this spunky, or is today a special day for you? LOL

You have had me laughing all morning.

As far as the OP, I have noticed this for sometime now. What ever. It's like the terrorist threats, I can't stop living my life and

I will not let anyone take away my right to learn.
edit on 27-2-2015 by crappiekat because: sp



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 01:21 PM
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Try running a fake symptoms check and then have a look at Facebook's adverts to see if any "remedies" magically appear.

I've disabled my account so I don't want to test this.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 01:28 PM
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I don't trust these sites anyway, because once when I was feeling Ill, I went to look up my symptons on-line and WebMD suggested that I had the bubonic plague. When I went to see a real doctor, they diagnosed me with a sinus infection.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 01:50 PM
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It got really fun when I was free-lance proofing for one of our local med-centers. They have world-class cardiac and cancer treatment and I had to look up all the terminology to make sure it was correct ... Well, standard desktop dictionaries don't have that stuff in them.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 01:53 PM
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I'm not allowed to use WebMD anymore on order of my parents.

Too many sobbing phone calls to them at 3 AM their time to tell them I think my brain is going start leaking out of my ears after jumping down the "Why are my ears ringing" rabbit hole, or searching "Stuffy nose", or "itchy ring finger".

Yeah.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:23 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:27 PM
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A reply to: Rezlooper

Hi, Rezlooper and ALL !

You said:

...every time we do a search for a medical symptom online,
that information is being tracked by a bunch of sites...

!! STOP using G00GLE !!

Use this, and read about their NO tracking ! !
### the world's most private search engine ###
= IXQUICK SEARCH
us2.ixquick.com...
or
= STARTPAGE search
startpage.com...
or for serious subjects
= WolframAlpha knowledge engine
www.wolframalpha.com...

EDIT to add:
...AND, DO ## log off## of your sites like F4CE300K and similar craps !
Do NOT only hit the X at top-right-corner. . .

Blue skies.
edit on 2015/2/27 by C-JEAN because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:29 PM
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originally posted by: greencmp
a reply to: Rezlooper

And now that we have the mandatory sharing of every citizen's health records with the government (I still can't believe that happened), the possibilities for abuse, intentional or accidental, is staggering.


That is stunning, isn't it. What ever happened to patient/physician privilege and confidentiality.

Unfortunately, the "Controllers" are of the opinion that everyone's health status is the "Government's Business". I think they believe that somehow everyone is obligated to share their health status such that the CDC and other health agencies can track disease incidence.

The youth of course, don't know any better, so my guess is that in 20 years, no one will give this any thought at all.

Big Brother isn't coming.
Big Brother IS HERE!



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:31 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:34 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr
Maybe they want us to stop getting "free" internet advice so they can charge us for more doctor visits.

Tell everyone they are being watched doing something and that activity is sure to dry up on some level. Until they dump the whole internet in favor to returning to one sided, top down, information dissemination, thats the best they will be able to pull.

If you are on the internet everything you do is tracked, there and in the real world. So what?


Good points, it makes sense. But, I think its more along the lines of what another poster here said about having cancer and receiving junk mail about cancer treatments the same day he received the news that he had cancer. It's more ways for Big Pharma to narrow down their demographic targets. And for Facebook, more ways to target their advertising for Big Pharma and the like.



posted on Feb, 27 2015 @ 02:38 PM
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One could always use the Private Browsing Function on Internet Browsers to stop this, alternatively, there are browser plugins that stop trackers and cookies, use them if you are worried, I certainly use them and I am not such an easy target for tracking.
edit on 27-2-2015 by IndigoGoGo because: (no reason given)

edit on 27-2-2015 by IndigoGoGo because: c




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