MENU

Google And Facebook Are Tracking Your Porn Site Activities, Says Microsoft Report

Close
Web traffic data were used to analyze user profiles for marketing and advertising purposes. In a study on pornographic sites, a team of researchers said more than 22,000 porn sites were riddled with web trackers by Google, Facebook, and Oracle.  ( Robinraj Premchand | Pixabay )

Facebook, Google, and Oracle may be tracking and leaking user data from porn sites, according to a study led by Microsoft.

Together with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania, the team analyzed 22,484 porn sites and found it was riddled with web trackers.

The study identified three implications such as the risks of porn data leakage compared to other data types, the impact to the vulnerable population, and the complications for giving consent.

Incognito Is Vulnerable

The researchers used a tool called webXray to identify and analyze trackers that feed data to third parties. Results showed that 74 percent of those trackers belonged to Google and its subsidiaries, 24 percent to Oracle, and 10 percent to Facebook.

This translates to approximately 16,638 porn sites tracked by Google, 5,396 by Oracle, and 2,248 by Facebook.

Even when users switch to incognito mode, their web activities are not secured. Search data are not stored in their histories, but the same is trickled to third parties.

"Such 'third-party' code can allow companies to monitor the actions of users without their knowledge or consent and build detailed profiles of their habits and interests," noted the authors.

The study reported that only 17 percent of the surveyed porn sites have encryption, leaving visitors vulnerable to hackers.

Retailing Porn Data

Coauthor Elena Maris, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft, said it is alarming how user data on porn sites are tracked similarly to online retail.

Companies like Google and Facebook use trackers to analyze traffic and feed it back to websites for marketing. However, the researchers did not indicate how the data on porn sites were used.

In a statement, A Google spokesman said they do not collect user information to build 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," a Google representative said.

Google added it does not transmit data with the users' identifiable information.

Similarly, a Facebook spokesperson told The Times that the company prevented porn sites from using their tracking tools for advertisement.

ⓒ 2018 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Real Time Analytics