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Facebook and Google know when you’re watching porn (even if you’re in incognito mode)

Jacob Yothment

Published

It looks like the prying eyes of the internet are on us even at our most private, intimate moments.

Man watching porn

A recent study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania determined that about 93% of porn sites leak user data to a third-party. 

Google and Facebook both had trackers on thousands of porn sites. Oracle also had trackers on thousands of porn sites. Even if you are watching porn in incognito mode, there is a chance that both Google and Facebook have followed you there.

Why do Google and Facebook want to know if I’m watching porn?

Google and Facebook might be acting like peeping Toms, but they aren’t using the info for what you think.

Tracking tools can be used to gather information about users. However, spokespeople for both Google and Facebook said that information from adult websites are not used to create marketing 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. Additionally, tags for our ad services are never allowed to transmit personally identifiable information to Google,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider.

Online privacy

If you see a link on a site to share that content on Facebook, there is often a Facebook tracker on that site. Basically, even though you probably can’t imagine sharing a porn video with your friends and family, Facebook may be tracking the site in case you do.

It’s hard to determine just what Google and Facebook are doing with this information, but it could be an accident.

It could be unintentional

As weird as it sounds, web trackers are not uncommon in the slightest. Even companies like the New York Times use web trackers to use and share data about its readers. 

Both Google and Facebook don’t allow pornographic content on their platforms. Even if you watch 18 hours of porn every single day, Facebook and Google won’t show you a single ad for pornography. Basically, there’s a real chance that although Google and Facebook are tracking you on a porn site, they aren’t necessarily doing anything with the data. 

We can’t tell if that makes it more creepy or less creepy.

What can I do?

First off, sign out of Google and Facebook before you start watching anything racy.

 Next, be careful about which sites you choose to visit, regardless of the content. All porn sites look like, well, porn sites, so it can be hard to find one that isn’t trying to give you a virus.  Also, make sure to run an antivirus program just to be safe:

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Finally, there are apps you can download that can stop web trackers in, well, their tracks. You can surf the internet safely with a VPN. Again, just make sure you aren’t signed into Google or Facebook.

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You can also download DoNotTrackMe. It’s a simple little app that blocks web trackers from tracking you as you surf the web. However, although it will block most web trackers, it has been known to have a few slip through the cracks. Using a VPN is the better option, but if you don’t want to use that, this is a good option as well.

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And you should definitely ditch Chrome as fast as you can. Google is stockpiling huge amounts of data as you browse. Choose Brave or Firefox for a more private experience online.

Finally, make sure you’re not using Google to search for anything improper. A search engine like DuckDuckGo keeps your information private, while Google sucks it up into their giant database about you.

Wrapping up

Now that we know that Google and Facebook have trackers on porn sites, the question remains: “How will they respond?” If the trackers are removed, it means that it was an accident. However, if they stay put, it means that the data is probably being used for something, and we deserve to know what!

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