How users of erotic sites are spied on

Those who are on erotic sites probably don’t necessarily want others to know about it. What many people don’t know, however, is that even in incognito mode, large tech companies track everything very closely.

Sites like Xhamster and Pornhub are among the most visited Internet domains in Germany. Many try to hide their identity with the incognito mode in the browser. But it has no protective effect in this context. A lawsuit is even underway against Google in the U.S. for 5 billion dollars in damages. Precisely because the Chrome browser does not make people invisible. It is frighteningly easy for advertising companies to find out the identity of people and the videos they watch. This is how blatantly you are spied on when visiting erotic sites if you agree to cookies.

How visitors to erotic sites are spied on

Most erotic and internet sites can create an individual digital fingerprint of the users. This process is called “fingerprinting” and allows advertisers to match a person’s visits to different sites and thus create profiles for tailored advertising.

With this individual information and the IP address assigned to each Internet user, very accurate identification is possible. Surfing behavior as well as the titles of the videos watched can thus become public sooner or later – and potentially also be linked to the name.

Sites track what searches you have made or what movies you have watched. For this purpose, they use tracking tools like Google Analytics, but also the share buttons for Facebook and Twitter or other third-party networks.

Hackers are also interested

The magazine “Vice” did the test and read out the transmission data. For example, the erotic site “Xnxx” sends data to Google, to the Oracle subsidiary and analysis company “Addthis” and to an advertising network called “Pornvertising” – even when you surf in private mode. Such publication of erotic preferences by amateur hackers is an ever-growing danger, because the data is spread across various platforms. Attackers could sell them or blackmail users with them.

Advertisers in particular benefit from precise information about their target group. In the case of publication of surfing histories, this may simply be embarrassing for us in Germany, but in some countries people with certain sexual preferences are suppressed and persecuted.

What can I do about tracking?

Complete anonymity is impossible on the Internet. But you can cover your tracks as best you can: For example, via VPN services such as “Hidester.” This free service allows users to surf the web with an IP address other than their own. To do this, simply enter the link of the page you want to visit anonymously in the search mask. Although this cannot completely protect against tracking, it at least makes it more difficult to create a digital footprint.

Generally, it is also recommended to use an anti-tracking browser like “DuckDuckGo”, which automatically prevents almost all tracking attempts.

Last, of course, remains the option to object to advertising cookies on the site. This can be done when asking for consent the first time you visit the site (or again after 30 days) to enable only the necessary cookies. This probably requires some clicking around on many sites, but is worth the effort.