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Web Browsing: One tab "Knows what the other is Doing"?

  1. Sep 8, 2015 #1

    WWGD

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    Hi all,
    In the process of doing some standard websurfing, I am running into the situation that " One tab knows what the others are doing" : I mean, simplifying, say I am checking out a webpage on cars in tab 1. Then, when switching to tab 2, I will get some adds related to cars. This happens with different pairings of tabs too. Is this malware, or is this normal?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    It has nothing to do with tabs, it's cookies and they have a global effect in the browser. Your browser and the advertisers work together to keep track of what you look at and serve up ads accordingly and they do that by, among other things, putting cookies on your computer. Disable cookies and the behavior will either go away or at least be reduced (I think they have other methods than cookies but I might be wrong).

    EDIT: if you use, for example, "my yahoo" as a home page, I think there's a lot of tracking going on. That's part of a personalized browser home page.
     
  4. Sep 8, 2015 #3
    Using JS you can communicate with other windows in the same domain, but yeah what you are describing is simply tracking cookies for advertising.
     
  5. Sep 21, 2015 #4

    rbelli1

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    It's not one tab knowing what the other is doing. It's one server telling the other servers what you are doing.

    BoB
     
  6. Sep 21, 2015 #5

    phinds

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    And what is the mechanism for this if not cookies?
     
  7. Sep 21, 2015 #6

    WWGD

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    Notice the scare quotes about the statement.
     
  8. Sep 21, 2015 #7

    rbelli1

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    Yes, the underlying mechanism is based on cookies. My point was that it is not just code running on your browser doing the tracking. There is a server somewhere consuming your browsing habits to sell you what you "NEED".

    There are some explicit scare quote for you.

    BoB
     
  9. Sep 22, 2015 #8

    WWGD

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    I meant I was using very loose language not intended to be taken literally.
     
  10. Sep 22, 2015 #9

    rbelli1

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    I thought you were implying scare quotes around my words. I just reread your post and noticed them on yours.

    The whole thing ends up more creepy than scary when there is a whole internet push to sell you one particular item.

    BoB
     
  11. Sep 24, 2015 #10
    Sadly, this is "normal" behaviour. The tabs themselves cannot see each other, they run separately and unaware of each other. As others have mentioned, the effect could be the result of cookies installed on your computer which can let other websites know what you have been searching for. Keep in mind, this would require co-operation between websites. Some random website cannot read the cookie of another website, there has to be some kind of agreement between sites that allow them to access each others cookies and share information.
    Turning off cookies can help curb some of this behaviour but that usually comes with a hefty price tag, no more saved passwords/settings for websites, it'll just make sites more difficult to use and generally a nuisance. You'll end up turning cookies back on anyway for the convenience.

    In my opinion, that's probably not what's going on, cookies are just too pedestrian, they can very easily be cleared and data on your habits is lost. Your habits and likes are the money maker, companies like google don't want to risk losing that information.
    I think it's more likely that the advertisement is based on profiles built based on IP address. If say you are using google to search but don't have a google account, they can still track your interests based on the sites you click on in a google search and your search terms. It's not as accurate but still generally useful. If you have a google account, then even better for them to build a better profile.

    So when you do a search for cars, the search engine knows that your IP address is interested in cars. Then when you visit a new site that is likely running adds from google, the adds will be based on whatever information google has tied with your IP address, in this case, advertisements for cars.
     
  12. Sep 24, 2015 #11

    WWGD

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    Thanks, I am on my way to do a search for Medieval Lesbian Nepalese puppetry, frog hunting in Siberia by ambidextrous hopak dancers and sources for the game of hacky sack in Deutoronomy. See what kind of hits I get when I do a search after that. Is it feasible to have a program to do random searches like that for me, to throw off google and others?
     
  13. Sep 24, 2015 #12
    lol
    I'm sure those will yield some interesting results to say the least. In all seriousness though, I'm not sure if it's worth your while to put in that kind of effort. The big tech companies can filter for outliers easily enough. If it's important enough, then you're better off using a search engine like duckduckgo.

    But I wonder if using chrome as a browser makes a difference. I haven't read the privacy agreement. Does anyone have an opinion/answer on if simply using chrome allows google to build a profile on a given user?
     
  14. Sep 24, 2015 #13

    WWGD

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    Not sure. You can also use Cuil : www.cuil.pt , which intended to compete with Google at one point.
     
  15. Sep 24, 2015 #14
    No that's unworkable, most normal internet users don't have a fixed IP, their IP is allotted from a pool assigned to their provider.
    Sometimes the provider just changes it for whatever reason they might have, most likely a technical issue and nothing nefarious.
    Changing IP yourself is usually as simple as turning off your router for a couple of minutes.
    When it's turned on again it's highly likely that you will get a different IP alloted, although still from the same pool of course, but that pool could be potentially a number in the hundreds of thousands of IPs for the larger providers.
     
  16. Sep 24, 2015 #15

    rbelli1

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    You can set up do not track in your browser but that is only a suggestion that the sites please not track if they would be so kind.

    You could use private browsing and reset cookies after each session.

    The best course of action is if you decide to search for potentially embarasing content is to clear you browser history or use a different account on your computer.

    BoB
     
  17. Sep 24, 2015 #16

    WWGD

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    This is not the motivation behind my question, I just choose that I should decide who keeps track of what I do. And you never know what these companies will do with the data they keep from you, sensitive or not. If that has the effect of slowing down my surfing, so be it, I am willing to pay that price.
     
  18. Sep 24, 2015 #17
    There are purpose made applications which make your internet activity much more transparent.
    This is a popular one:
    https://www.ghostery.com/en/why-ghostery/for-individuals/ [Broken]
    You can also use a VPN service, other kinds of proxy server, and then there is Tor if being untraceable is a really important, though it slows things down quite a lot,
    There all your activities (server requests) are being routed randomly through various other Tor users, so no server can possibly identify the true origin of a particular request.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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