Is a Web Beacon Tracking Your Online Activity?

Is a Web Beacon Tracking Your Online Activity?
By Kym Gordon Moore

Do you feel insecure, knowing that your online activity is retrieved and tracked through various methods? Do you think this type of data collection is a breach of privacy? Did you know that a pixel tag could track what you view online? Whether you know it or not or even like it or not, there are small snippets of code embedded in HTML emails and web pages used to collect or transfer data about you, what you send through an email and what sites you visit online. You do not physically see this code, but it is there.

Also known as web bugs or page tags, web beacons are often used in combination with cookies. According to the website All About Cookies, a web beacon is typically a transparent graphic image (usually 1 pixel by 1 pixel) that is placed on a site or in an email. This transparent graphic image monitors the behavior of the user. The browser’s cookies or HTTP cookies are used for tracking, by storing user history data. This data collection is used by companies to segment promotional information to send to you or for in-house analytical information. If you turn off your HTTP cookies this will block web beacons from tracking your activity.

Online security is a very sensitive and hot topic nowadays in the business and private sectors. While tracking online activity is nothing new, it is imperative to be mindful of what you reveal in cyberspace. Web beacons account for anonymous visits, but can be detected by viewing the source code of a web page. Personal information can easily be compromised if you are not cautious. Exercise common sense when sharing personal information at all times. Although a lot of information is legitimately collected about you and your activity while surfing the Internet, there remains a small percentage of dishonest cyber-predators waiting to steal and exploit your information if you are not careful about how you expose it online.

Kym Gordon Moore, author of “Diversities of Gifts: Same Spirit” and “Wings of the Wind: A Cornucopia of Poetry” is an award winning poet, author, speaker, philanthropist, certified email marketing specialist and an authority in strategic marketing. She is the administrator of the Tea and Poetry Book Club, co-founder of Favorite Things for a CAUSE and selected as one of the 2012 U.S. World Book Night Volunteer Book Givers.

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