You’ve probably noticed that while browsing the web or visiting a new site for the first time, you may be asked to enter your email address to continue searching.
This is not a coincidence, as many companies are trying to get a hold of as many email addresses as possible to push targeted ads, among other things.
Here’s why you should think twice before giving your email out to just anyone.
Why do companies want my email address?
Advertisers, web publishers and app makers all want to gather email addresses partially so that they can contact you with promotional messages, advertisements and special offers. They also use it as a lead generator so they can build a list of potential customers who they can follow up with in the future.
They will likely send you more than a few emails each day, and they make it nearly impossible for you to unsubscribe. They also want your email so that they can track your activity across various sites and apps so that they can send you targeted ads.
Apple and Google have been working hard to give you options to block apps from tracking you and to prevent websites from using cookies.
Cookies begin storing information upon your connection to the website, labeling your data with an ID uniquely related to your computer. This allows the website to gather information unique to you and your previous activity on the website.
However, preventing websites and apps from using cookies and monitoring your activity can’t stop advertisers from tracking you if you willingly provide them with your email address. Email addresses can also be extremely personal, as someone can use them to find out information such as where you went to school and your ethnicity.
What kind of technology do these companies use to track me?
One particular type of technology that has been growing in popularity ever since Apple and Google started cracking down on tracking is called Unified ID 2.0, also known as UID 2.0.
Here’s how it works. If you’re on a website shopping for clothes and the website asks you to enter your email address to continue shopping, a token is formed as soon as you give your email address away.
This token will then travel with your email address when you use it to log into other sites, such as Facebook or Netflix. If, say, you log into Facebook, your Facebook account, and the account you used to shop on the clothing website will essentially be linked together, and advertisers can then start targeting clothing ads for you on your Facebook page.
How can I prevent being tracked in the future?
- Opt out of giving your email address away: if you have only one email account and do not want it flooded with targeted ads, it’s best not to share it when asked on the internet.
- Use a private and secure email address: The best way to keep your emails private is to use an encrypted email server.
- Consider using an alias email address: An alias email address is a great way for you to stop receiving constant spam mail to your main email inbox. By creating a customized email alias, if you start to see other companies sending you emails to that specific alias, you’ll not only know the source of where it got breached, but you can then simply delete the alias so other companies won’t send you spam.
Our No. 1 pick of secure and private email is StartMail, which allows users to create unlimited, customized aliases. To find out my expert review, head over to CyberGuy.com and search “Mail” by clicking the magnifying glass at the top of my website.
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