It’s common knowledge that in this digital world, Big Brother is always watching, but it’s easy to turn a blind-eye and pretend that the websites you surf are not monitoring your every move. Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that collects and shows users the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web.
As I browse on Firefox, and activate Lightbeam, the program marks every interaction and the relationships between sites. When I visit a website, the add-on instantly creates a visual graphic of all the third parties that are active on that page.
As I then browsed to a second site, Lightbeam continues to add the third parties that are also active there and showed me which third parties had seen me at both sites.
The graphic grows with every site I visited and every search I made into my browser.
I turned on Lightbeam and proceeded to use my computer for about 20 minutes.
I mainly was reading news articles on Yahoo, People, and The Independent. However I also browsed Facebook and Youtube, as well as signing onto my.Ryerson.
In only visiting 12 sites, I connected with 371 third party sites.
There was one connection that I did find extremely interesting. The my.ryerson was connected to my Facebook. Now I’m not sure why my school website is connected, however it is something I want to look into.
After realizing all the information that Lightbeam generated, I began to question what they do with all that information. I gave this program the ability to track all my Internet use with out really asking what they were doing with it. I went back the research the program and according to its website, all the info generated and used in Lightbeam are only stored locally on my computer (SOURCE).
At any time, I am able to save a copy of the data, reset Lightbeam to erase the history, and I can also disable data collection.
Overall my findings from Lightbeam are eye opening. Big Brother IS watching and making connections.