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They should similarly give users options to control what personal data the company collects and how it’s allowed to be used and shared. But our research shows that most internet and mobile companies we evaluated, including Facebook, only gave users the option to opt out of receiving interest-based ads, should they wish to do so and manage to navigate through often-labyrinthine settings pages to toggle them off. None clearly informed users if and when they were being automatically tracked and profiled. Nor did any appear to operate on the ideal “opt-in” model. This problem goes beyond corporations recording what users do on their platforms. The companies we evaluated also proved especially evasive about clearly advising users if and how they track users across the internet, whether it be deploying cookies to follow and collect data on individuals across websites and devices, or casting similar data-collection nets via widgets or plug-ins, like social media buttons, or via other types of web-tracking tools embedded on other websites. For instance, Google Analytics, a tool that records website visits and feeds that information back into the company’s ad-targeting system, is embedded on a vast majority of the internet’s most-visited websites. To platforms like Google and Facebook, these types of tracking tools and practices are worth big bucks. Combined, the pair, nicknamed “ digital duopoly ,” controls nearly 60 percent of total U.S. online ad investments —largely because the pair can sell more highly-targeted ads on systems that use the detailed individual behavior and preference profiles they’ve been able to amass (including on people who aren’t even registered on the platforms ).
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://slate.com/technology/2018/04/study-shows-just-how-terrible-companies-like-facebook-and-google-are-at-telling-you-how-they-use-your-data.html