Remember the TV show about the place where everybody knows your name? On the internet, nowadays, it seems that everyone knows much more than merely your name. They know what web sites you like looking at, and what products you're interested in. And they use this information to present you with what's called behavioral advertising. Adverts which they think will appeal to you. But which you probably find a little creepy because they are so closely aligned to your interests and your online habits.
The technology works because of a number of so-called ad networks. These are companies which track your online activity and display adverts in your browser. If two companies use the same ad network to serve their ads, then each company can take use data generated by each other's customers in order to tailor the ads. And when hundreds of companies all use the same network, the tailoring gets very specific.
Most reputable ad network companies offer a way to turn off behavioral advertising, so that you'll only see generic ads instead. And if you are based in any European country, there's even a web site that lets you update your settings with all of those ad networks from a single location. Just head to http://www.youronlinechoices.com/ and select your country to get started.
The site will contact all the ad networks in your country, show you whether you are currently set to receive behavioral ads from them, and then allow you to change the settings.
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