Faiza Haniya Anas <anas.f>

Hi Professor Reagle,

Here’s my Privacy Footprint assignment. The URL: The Markdown:

Privacy Footprint

None of this account is mine Searching my full name only lead me to my reading response.

My instagram’s username showed up on my friend’s business account’s followers.

Old Facebook pictures that I was tagged in.

“As the largest and most successful social network, Facebook’s issues has been the most visible” (Kernighan, 2017). I have deactivated my Facebook account a few years ago. At first, I don’t see the point of having a Facebook account if I rarely open it. However, after seeing that Facebook can track your every move with just your phone number, I won’t be reactivating it any time soon. “If for example, you gave your number to a taxi, delivery company or restaurant, they could look you up on Facebook and immediately know your name, what you look like and some basic details about you - depending on your privacy settings. And if your name is in anyway unique, like mine, that opens up the possibility of a lot more information being available, such as where you work.” (McGoogan, 2017). Facebook can make you vulnerable to having your privacy being compromised. When I was googling myself, I found an old Facebook post that I was tagged in. It was a picture from my dance group which is fine as it does not show my face clearly, but very creepy that they can still tag me without me knowing about it. Because I don’t have an account people can’t exactly look me up, it would only bring you to the group’s account. Interestingly, I found my Instagram profile picture on Google, but it does not direct you straight to Instagram, but to a sketchy website that can track your Instagram’s activity. I have my Instagram settings on private, so my Instagram account by itself does not turn up. When I clicked the profile picture it lead me through one of my friend’s Instagram account on another vague website called “”. I have never heard of that website or if it is safe, but any website with the word stalk on it will make you feel uncomfortable especially if they track your Instagram activity. The website has your friends’ analytics in which they took account of all your friends, total followers, and active friends. They also have a score out of a hundred which I do not understand the point of. The search result does not exactly give away my Instagram account but my followers’ accounts did appear. Therefore, my Instagram account is not exactly private.

“the right to have your location remain private—is compromised by a large number of systems that we use all the time” (Kernighan, 2017). Another thing that scares me about leaving your digital footprint is having your Timeline on Google Maps. This is terrifying because of location history, the 3 places that I visited the most is my home address in my hometown and my old school. The places are not within a 50 miles radius, it is exactly the right address with numbers and everything. I have disabled and deleted the location history so my address won’t pop up, as it would be very easy for criminals to hack into.

Thank you.

Jacob Barrett <barrett.jaco>

Hello! Here is my wiki assignment!

Privacy Footprints

My Footprint

In the Golden Age of the Internet, anyone can see anything about anyone. Especially yourself! So much of what we say or do can be found on the internet. Take me for example!

Luckily, my presence online isn’t too seen. Looking up my name in the news or images returns few if any results of my person. Even more so, I could not find myself after some hefty searching on Intellius. The only video I could find of myself is the following after some hefty digging:

But what does my BROWSER know about me? Well, almost everything. According to webkay, my computer knows a multitude of things, like that I am logged into Facebook, my OS, my plugins, and that I have a Flickr account, which is concerning considering I didn’t even know that.

Following that, Google Chrome, my primary browser, documents so much of what I do. From my Search Activity to my Ad Settings, Google has a lot of info about me. The cookies they’ve collected about me gives way to a variety of ads they can tailor to me, as well as knowing exactly what I’ve looked up. However, they don’t have as much as my social media accounts. While nothing there is poor in taste or content, there is some less professional content. For example, my profile picture on Facebook is me eating a slice of pizza in a funny way. Imagine if a Co-op employer saw that! Which is why I try to limit my online presence to avoid awkward interactions.


In modern society, data is king. It is a very strong method of forming capital, where companies such as Facebook sell consumer data like phone numbers. Yet, most of the time, these are disclosed behind the small print and terms and conditions agreements. We don’t know what we are giving up until it’s gone. In Cara McGoogan’s article “How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?”, McGoogan noticed how Facebook was able to gain access to people’s numbers despite not being supplied directly by the person. McGoogan laters finds out: “Based on what the company told me, it’s almost impossible to stop it knowing your phone number. If you haven’t given it to Facebook directly, the service can retrieve it from a variety of places, including the number stored in the phone or tablet that you’re using, your mobile operator, or if you provided it at some point in the past.”

There are also other ways such as tapping into your friends’ address books and finding you. It just goes to show how subconsciously our devices are finding our info and considering what information could be available (credit cards, etc), this could be very dangerous.

However, there are ways to strengthen our online protection. Brian Kernighan from proposes several ways on how to protect your privacy. One such way is to be more conscious of our cookies and our presence online. Cookies put simply are packets of data saved by our computers to estimate our preferences online. These can come in the form of targeted ads to certain individuals so that the possibility of interaction is maximized. One such way to avoid this, suggested by Kernighan, is to clear your cookies or be more wary of them. Another way of doing this is by simply using incognito mode, meaning cookies can’t be saved, so your browser will not remember any details about you.

Additionally mentioned by Kernighan, some information we have is plainly public, and there is nothing to be done about that. But when it comes to the web, when we have the ability to control the footprint we leave, we may as well exercise as much caution as we can. – Jacob Barrett D’Amore-McKim School of Business Candidate for Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Communications Studies

Ryan Beckmann <beckmann.r>


Privacy Footprint

A web search of my name only revealed two results about me. In the initial search, my Instagram came up. I expected this to happen as it is public. Nothing even close to me came up in the image search, but an IMBD picture of my cousin, Tim Beckmann, came up as he is an actor. In the video search, my youtube channel came up. This is what shocked me the most, as I literally made the channel for the purpose of uploading a mix of me playing drums to send in for college applications.

While looking at what google knew about me, I was not surprised to learn that it basically had me down to a tee. Obviously it had all the records of things that I’d searched, but more interestingly it was pretty much spot on with the targeted advertising preferences for me and my interests.


“When tracks like these are collected from multiple sources they can paint a detailed picture of our activities, our interests, our finances, and many other aspects of our lives. In the most benign setting, that information is used to help advertisers target us more accurately, so that we will see advertisements that we are likely to respond favorably to. But the tracking need not stop there, and its results can be used for much less innocent purposes, including redlining on the basis of income or worse, financial theft, identify theft, government surveillance, and even physical harm” (Kernighan). At what point is it too much? Obviously there are benefits for people to put their information out online— otherwise, people wouldn’t do it. But with the good comes the bad and the ugly, and we want to and need to avoid those at all costs. Most people are simply too naive to the fact that their information is out there, easily accessible. Because of the general lack of public awareness in this field, people and organizations can maliciously take advantage of this. If you know everything there is to know about someone, it’s not that hard to assume their identity— and completely ruin their lives. “… the act of reaching out makes you visible and accessible throughout the world, where not everyone has your best interests at heart. That opens the door to spam, scams, spyware, viruses, tracking, surveillance, identify theft, and loss of your privacy and even your money. It’s wise to be wary” (Kernighan).

If we are mindful enough, we can easily protect our privacy online, keeping the benefits of digital communication and the internet without the drawbacks. One of the main things we can do to protect ourselves has to do with our passwords. As we talked about in class, using something like password manager is a good idea. The majority of hacks happen due to the simplicity of one’s password, or a password being used across multiple platforms. Additionally, we just need to be mindful of what we have available as public information. For example, my Instagram profile is public. Anyone can view it. Through that, they could figure out what I look like, my approximate age, what high school I went to, and what university I go to. And I’m okay with that. I’m comfortable with that information being available to the public. But I don’t have any sensitive information on there that I would rather keep private. And that’s what it comes down to; we need to be constantly aware of what is available on the web, and what we are putting there.

Christine Bronski <bronski.c>

Hi Professor,

Below you will find my privacy wiki, as well as its markdown.

Best, Christine Bronski


When I searched my name, these were the first web pages shown. I was not surprised by this, although it’s interesting how my high school track times come up as the second tab, when the last time I did track was sophomore year of high school. I was expecting more recent things to come up.

When I searched by name, I went to images, then decided to narrow the search by clicking, “instagram.” My instagram account is private, so I wasn’t surprised that my pictures didn’t come up. Something surprising was that a lot of pictures of people I follow come up, whether those pictures be recent, or from years ago.

Next, I looked into my google privacy, where I learned about what information was stored. I was shocked to see how names of people I’ve texted or emailed come up, as well as how frequently I talk to those people. When I clicked on the tab, “contacts”, the people I’m in touch with were listed based on when we last talked, and how much we talk in general.

After these more generic web self searches, I wanted to look into a social media app. I decided to look at my Facebook’s privacy settings. What stood out to me the most was that based on when I was on Facebook, my locations, times, and what device I was using are listed. I didn’t know that was an aspect of the app. This is concerning mostly because I don’t like having an application like this knowing where and when I am somewhere. My question is, do others have access to this information?

Engagement with the Reading

How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers? -By Cara McGoogan

Key Points * It is almost impossible to prevent facebook from knowing your phone number * If you’ve listed or provided your phone number in the past, it can be seen * Access to friends contact books can give facebook your phone number, even if you don’t * When a Facebook user adds new friends, one way to do so is by importing numbers saved on their phone. Facebook matches these numbers to profiles, and suggests friending those people, which also shows their names, and photos. * You can set your privacy to allow certain people to view your phone number and email that are linked with Facebook * Allows/Disallows individuals to search you by your phone number or email

Ting Cao <cao.tin>

Dear professor,

Privacy Footprint

Search on websites

I never thought I can find myself from a simple search on google. I searched my name and saw a lot of other persons’ information who have the same name as me. When I searched my name, Ting Cao, and clicked videos under the search bar, a similar situation appeared. All of the people who appeared in searching results are from other schools and other places.

However, I am surprised that when I searched under images, I quickly found myself. The photo is from my LinkedIn account and the link under the photo result is my LinkedIn page.

Actually, I don’t want myself to appear on websites. It makes me feel a little bit unsafe and it is kind of privacy. I didn’t find myself on Intelius. The only searching result is someone else. I think it is because I am an international student and not live here for a long time, so Intelius does not have my information and background. The website mostly records residents.

I didn’t notice that there are plenty of ways a computer can be tracked besides cookies until I checked out “What every browser knows about you”. I choose to use Noscript to prevent it if I go to potentially dangerous content.


Overall, I am not too surprised by my findings. Although I didn’t find much information about myself, I still had a strong understanding of the Internet and its ability to save specific information. Every search can be recorded and even it is just a click mistake. The information on the computer might be stolen. If the technology is developed, why don’t we think about securing our information more? It is not a nice feeling when somebody else or someone I don’t even know is watching what I am doing. Even more and more people have it justifiable in the name of the business. Like when I searched my phone at Intelius, it requires to pay money to see the information. My friend and I received emails said they got our email passwords and ask for money. Otherwise, they will publish our information on websites. I feel that becoming more aware of our actions on the Internet, such as deleting our cookies, signing out of accounts, and applying security where is needed, for example selecting the tab Tools then selecting Start Private Browsing, deleting any information saved from the website previously browsed will allow us the people have the advantage to prevent privacy issues from taking place. I hope everyone can protect themselves from websites in this developed society.


Sincerely, Ting Cao – Candidate for Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Northeastern University Class of 2020 C: 857-205-1617 E:

Emma Cubellis <cubellis.e>

Good afternoon Professor Reagle,

Here is my privacy footprint assignment.



Privacy footprint

Perusing the Internet is a lot like being Hansel and Gretel — you’re leaving breadcrumbs everywhere. And the Internet is a lot like a chipmunk storing up for winter — it’ll eat anything. You look behind you and poof! All the crumbs are gone and you have no idea where you’ve been or where you’re going or what you’ve left behind. The only one who knows is that dang chipmunk, and he’s pretty elusive.

alt text

The Internet, whether we like it or not, is storing our information just like that chipmunk is storing our breadcrumbs. How aware are we of this fact, though? McGoogan (2016) discusses the shock she, as well as many others, experienced when she found out that Facebook knew her phone number without her having explicitly given Facebook that information. To me, it seemed rather naïve to think that Facebook wouldn’t know your phone number, especially given the fact that you access the app on your phone, and that Facebook already knows nearly everything anyways. Why wouldn’t they know your phone number, especially when you’re using your mobile phone to use Facebook? It seems implausible that the two wouldn’t be connected, and sure enough Facebook can access your phone number via the “phone or tablet that you’re using.” (McGoogan, 2016) One thing I did not expect Facebook to be able to do was allow others to query for me by my phone number. After reading McGoogan, I went into my Facebook settings. I hadn’t changed them or even looked at them… ever.

I immediately changed who could search me by my phone number (which Facebook does have), if search engines can link to my Facebook profile, and who can see my friends list. I know that these small changes don’t protect a majority of my privacy though, and that I’ve (in some ways) given up my own privacy rights by simply parlaying into the vast networks of social media and the Internet as a whole, something that I do not think McCoogan acknowledges in his discussion.

Kernighan (2017) argues that the ever-evolving, all-pervasive knowledge of the Internet has its humble roots in search. This makes perfect sense — if search engines are able to crawl and gather information about millions of web pages and store that data, of course they might fall upon a webpage that has information about you. Then, just like the chipmunk, it’ll store that breadcrumb. Concepts concerning how the Internet queries our information aren’t difficult. The difficultly comes in at the intersection of privacy, the Internet, and regulation. The Internet is not going to stop gathering our information, we just have to figure out a way to regulate how it can use this information.

To see how much these search engines know about me, I searched myself on Google.

Most of the information I got was related to my job and the articles I had written for BookBub as well as another site (She Reads). It also had my volleyball statistics (spolier: They’re terrible). For photos, there were those included on the BookBub blog, and some of my graduation, which had appeared in local newspapers.

All of the information that Google scraped about me was rather innocuous. And the information that other services like Intelius had on me was nothing that isn’t already public information. It was a little concering, though, that Intelius had my home location. Then again, I suppose one could find that in a Yellow Pages (back in the day).

As for the deeper depths of Google, it had nothing on me. No search activity. No maps timeline. Odd, but good (?).

This information being public doesn’t worry me so much as the personal information stored in the Cloud. I, in truth, have no idea how much the Cloud knows, or how to stop it from knowing all those things (without ceasing my use of Cloud based services or really the Internet in general, which is virtually impossible today). McGoogan mentions that for sensitive information, such as emailing between his students, he uses non-cloud based services. But what if my school email is Google? Not to mention that my other Yahoo email is attached to my Apple account, which has its own major cloud. Couple that with the fact that my phone stores my entire life on it (hyperbole? Maybe not today), and that’s an Apple product, which is therefore connected to the Cloud.

So, is any of my information really mine anymore? Probably not. And while the EU does have laws on whether or not companies can collect information on you, “anything goes” in the US (Kernighan, p. 195). It seems unfair to me that employers can’t explciity ask about your race, religion, etc., but that the Internet makes that information more than accessible to employers. But how do we go about regulating that? It seems virtually impossible to stop employers from looking at our social media (unless we’re going to monitor them forever). Then there is the issue of public versus truly private information. As Kernighan states, some information is, and always has been, public, like public records. But in the digital age, when everything can be made public, how do we regulate privacy without compromising freedom?

I can resign myself to the idea that the Internet will always be picking up my breadcrumbs, but what I can’t accept is a lack of laws protecting my privacy. It should be the job of the government to understand, monitor, and take legal measure to protect its citizens from the Internet, just as it protects them theft. This is simply its virtual form.

Best, Emma Cubellis

Emma Cubellis <cubellis.e>

Hi everyone,

I was just watching some TV, and saw an AT&T commercial for privacy on the iPhone. I couldn’t find that exact commercial, but I did find an article from Business Insider that discusses the privacy campaign Apple put out in March. Since then they’ve made several TV spots for privacy on the iPhone, and their website has a whole page about it (which is linked in the article).


One of the commercials:

Best, Emma Cubellis

Sunishka Dash <dash.s>


This is kind of an old article but I found it relevant to our upcoming discussion on social media and privacy. This shows how Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) sharing personal information jeopardized Brazil’s democracy.

Best, Sunishka

Sunishka Dash <dash.s>


I would really like your feedback for this assignment.

This is the URL for my privacy footprint assignment:

Below is the markdown:

Privacy footprint

“If you are not paying for the product- you are the product.” -Anonymous

Every time we use Google, Facebook, Gmail, or any other online service we provide them with additional data about ourselves. Our data is then sold to the highest bidder without any concern for our privacy.

When writing about “cloud computing” Brian Kernighan explains how digital information is stored on virtual service platforms. His chapter on this made me realise that once we provide our information on such sites there is no getting it back.

Cara McGoogan also notes (while talking about her phone number) that “If you haven’t given it to Facebook directly, the service can retrieve it from a variety of places…” This shows that ensuring privacy on a website’s settings does not guarantee that the website will not obtain private information on you. Even though Cara McGoogan never provided her phone number to Facebook they managed to dig it up.

These two articles made me really conscious of my own online presence. It made me curious as to how much information websites have been gathering about me that I was unaware of.

Upon looking myself up on google search I found some quite interesting results.

Although most of it was professional, I also found a Facebook post that my friend had tagged me in almost 2 years ago. I was under the impression that only the two of us could see a post when we tag each other on it. This finding has made me re-evaluate the comments I leave on Facebook.

Looking at my privacy settings on Google delivered equally amusing results.

For my search history:

For my ad preferences:

Google got my ad preferences wrong by showing my marital status as “in a relationship” and my homeownership status as “homeowners”. I live in a dorm and do not recall being in a relationship.

Sources like Intellius and Google timeline did not have information on my location history.

However, most importantly “What every browser knows about you” gave me all the information websites get about me when I use their services. This includes my IP address and other websites I am logged in to such as Facebook or Gmail.

While these digital footprints make me very uncomfortable I don’t think I can make them go away. The only real solution I can think of is to be more wary of such websites and to not blindly trust their assurances of security.

Sunishka Dash <dash.s>


I would really like your feedback for this assignment.

This is the URL for my privacy footprint assignment:

Below is the markdown:

Privacy footprint

“If you are not paying for the product- you are the product.” -Anonymous

Every time we use Google, Facebook, Gmail, or any other online service we provide them with additional data about ourselves. Our data is then sold to the highest bidder without any concern for our privacy.

When writing about “cloud computing” Brian Kernighan explains how digital information is stored on virtual service platforms. His chapter on this made me realise that once we provide our information on such sites there is no getting it back.

Cara McGoogan also notes (while talking about her phone number) that “If you haven’t given it to Facebook directly, the service can retrieve it from a variety of places…” This shows that ensuring privacy on a website’s settings does not guarantee that the website will not obtain private information on you. Even though Cara McGoogan never provided her phone number to Facebook they managed to dig it up.

These two articles made me really conscious of my own online presence. It made me curious as to how much information websites have been gathering about me that I was unaware of.

Upon looking myself up on google search I found some quite interesting results.

Although most of it was professional, I also found a Facebook post that my friend had tagged me in almost 2 years ago. I was under the impression that only the two of us could see a post when we tag each other on it. This finding has made me re-evaluate the comments I leave on Facebook.

Looking at my privacy settings on Google delivered equally amusing results.

For my search history:

For my ad preferences:

Google got my ad preferences wrong by showing my marital status as “in a relationship” and my homeownership status as “homeowners”. I live in a dorm and do not recall being in a relationship.

Sources like Intellius and Google timeline did not have information on my location history.

However, most importantly “What every browser knows about you” gave me all the information websites get about me when I use their services. This includes my IP address and other websites I am logged in to such as Facebook or Gmail.

While these digital footprints make me very uncomfortable I don’t think I can make them go away. The only real solution I can think of is to be more wary of such websites and to not blindly trust their assurances of security.

Allegra DVirgilio <dvirgilio.a>

Nov 08 Fri - Privacy

How concerned should we be about our privacy online? Is there

anything we can do to protect it?

After completing this homework assignment, I scrambled to change every single privacy setting on my Facebook account, despite having had it since I was 13 years old and never doing this before. I have definitely not put as much thought as I should have into my online privacy, even though I have a very active presence across many different online platforms and sites. In “D is for Digital,” Brian Kernighan aims to inform people of some major personal privacy concerns that come with digital tech. He discusses the idea that, “increased processing power, storage capacity, and communications bandwidth combine to make it easy to capture and preserve information from many sources, analyze it efficiently, and disseminate it widely, all at miniamal expense.” (187) Kernighan explores how data is collected and given away, and the idea of “the cloud.” This writing complements “How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?” by Cara McGoogan. Her piece is more of a self-exploration into a personal problem that she encountered with Facebook, and what she uncovered about their data collection practices and motivations.

I found the Facebook phone number article to be the most personally troubling to me, since I previously incorrectly assumed that my number was private because I have never voluntarily given it. I am now very concerned about my overall privacy online. I knew that I was not the most tech-savvy person in the world, but I did not realize this was a problem making me more vulnerable to having my privacy violated. It probably already has been in multiple ways. Currently, I can not think of a simple way to protect users completely and am eager to discuss this more within our class in search of a solution. I am sure there is more that can be done, but it is not obvious. For instance, using McGoogan’s example that Facebook can get information about me from my friends, I can not control what all of them are doing with my data. I am hopeful that at every level of understanding users can protect their privacy. I do believe that the first step to power is knowledge, so I am glad that I am at least more informed about what is going on. In the future, I would like for the government or schools to more broadly educate all people about online privacy and personal rights. Not every person is lucky enough to take a class like this to inform them.

Example Screenshots: Allegra Belle D’Virgilio Communication Studies and Theatre Student College of Arts, Media, and Design Northeastern University (she/her/hers)

Chloe Evans <>



Privacy Footprint

With 3.5 million people online, it is the norm to be on social media, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. However, as the world becomes more connected and technology improves, privacy has become a larger issue. When I created my first Instagram account in 2013, I was blissfully ignorant of the fact that my posts were permanent; even if I deleted them, they would be tied to me forever. Users’ digital footprints include not only social media posts, but also the websites visited, emails sent, and information submitted online. With the innovation of geotagging and GPS cell phones, users’ footprints now expand beyond the digital realm; Kernighan (2017) argued “It’s harder and hard to avoid leaving a trail of every place you’ve been.”


It is frightening to see how much information people can garner about you online without you knowing. For instance, Facebook can link a user to their phone number without the user’s consent. The site imports contacts from user’s phones and matching the number to a profile. As long as you have someone’s phone number, you can find their Facebook profile, which includes their full name, school, and even their residence. Criminals can use “randomly generated phone number” searches to “build up a profile about individuals” (McGoogan, 2016).

Unlike Instagram, I only acquired a Facebook account at the end of my senior year and was vigilant about checking the privacy settings—with the majority of my posts and personal information is available only to my friends. What I dislike about Facebook is that, by default, the site makes most everything public; therefore it is viewable in Google search results to everyone on Facebook, even if they are not your friend. For minors, however, Facebook is more apt to educate them about the danger of sharing things publically. By default, their location settings are toggled off and warnings pop up reminding them about privacy.

Beyond social media, a myriad of other information about your surfaces on the web. When conducting a simple google search for my name: Chloe Evans, it does not yield much personal information (as my name is relatively common).

The first ten pages or so are all unrelated to me. However, when the search becomes more specific and includes my high school, actual photos of and articles about me will appear. One would have to know a relatively unique fact about me, such as where I went to high school, my phone number, or where I lived if they wanted to search for me on Google. If I were to be arrested and it were to go on a public record, it would be accessible by anyone with an internet connection. Other sites like Intelius also provide users with information about others, such as their age, phone number, where they’ve lived, relatives, education, and past employment. Even more information could be presented for a small fee. Fortunately, Intelius did not find much about me besides my age—there was, however, more information about my mother which was alarming.

From there, anyone could collect enough information about me and find my Facebook or Instagram profile. This kind of intelligence may be beneficial to possible employers, but others with malicious intent can use these sites to target certain people. In the United States, it is legal for companies and organizations to collect and distribute information about you as they please without your consent.

When searching for anything, whether it be for a definition or your name, there is a plethora of information sent out with each request: “the IP address, the page you were viewing, the type and version of the browser, the operating system, and the language.” Each search contains immense information that could be used to pinpoint your identity. This could be seen in the 2006 AOL release of query logs. People were able to identify others based on their unique identification code and pattern of queries. Although AOL had good intentions, they unknowingly violated their users’ privacy, learning that it is “impossible to anonymize data.” Although the logs were quickly taken down, they still exist on the internet because “once on the web, information is always on the web” (Kernighan, 2017).


Mentioned earlier, phones and advanced cameras can tag photos and identify where the picture was taken. This is beneficial for personal memories, but when photos are posted on social media, people can use geotags to track down where you live. Sites like “What every Browser knows about you” can tell you where and when your photo was taken. Fortunately, when I tried the service, none of my iPhone photos had geotags and just had the time and the date of when the photo was taken. “What every Browser knows about you” also informs you of all the data that any website can access without permission. Your location, what social media you’re logged into, hardware, software, battery percentage, IP address, connection, and so much more can easily be accessed by anyone. Surprisingly, it says I am logged into Flickr even though I am not part of this social media platform.

With more advanced technology, hackers and criminals can gain access to your information and extort you for money, steal your identity, or engage in other unsavory activities.


Google is not only a search engine, but also a popular platform that supplies users with a myriad of resources such as email, Google documents, Google sheets, and Google slides. When evaluating my Google privacy, using my Northeastern account, I do not have access to my timeline and location history and there is no data for my search history. What I did find interesting is that personalized ads are on by default, thus allowing companies to use cookies and other means to track you across sites and tailor advertisements based on your interests. Kernighan (2017) found that “well over half of the frequently visiting sites [have] tracking mechanisms on them” with many sites having multiple.

Users can access the services described above anywhere from any device, all they need is an internet connection and their credentials. Before the existence of the cloud, programs, such as Microsoft word, were stored on the user’s computer and could only be accessed by said computer. Now, the cloud offers the ease and convenience of not being attached to one device. However, who owns the documents and the words on them? Google? The user? Who has the right to distribute them? If the documents were leaked, should Google be held responsible?

Overall, who is responsible for your privacy? Although you have some control over what people see online, it is inevitable to manage what others post about you without your consent. It has become nearly impossible to exist without a digital footprint and become harder and harder to maintain it. Perhaps the loss of privacy is the price we have to pay for living in an increasingly digital world.

Danielle Feinstein <feinstein.d>

Privacy Footprint

Signing away your privacy is a slippery slope. It begins with a simple name and email, quickly followed by your phone number and zip code, and before you know it your entire life is sitting on a server somewhere overseas. Before completing this assignment, I understood that I had signed a lot of my information away over the years of social media accounts and terms and conditions agreements, but I didn’t understand the full implications of where my data was going or how it could impact me in the future. As technology like the cloud evolved to make life easier, I accepted the comfort without looking closely at the implications. In Kernighan’s article, he explains how giving away information online can have real and damaging effects in everyday life. For instance, information shared through the cloud and stored on a US server could be subject to US government subpoenas, even if you are not a United States citizen. A less severe example of privacy infringement is that anything shared on school or company email accounts is technically owned by that organization, regardless of the content of the message.

Kernighan’s article demonstrated how technology companies quietly collect information, so I was curious about what I would find while stalking myself online. A quick google search of my name did not prompt any information about me. My name is very similar to the US Senator Dianne Feinstein, so most of the photos and news stories were about her. However, my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts were quickly accessible from the first page of my google search. Going through this exercise from an outside point of view quickly showed me how easy it would be for someone threatening to find information that could endanger me.

I was shocked by the results of the Intelius search. While my name did not appear, both of my parents and my younger brother were listed. Intelius knew almost all of the places my parents have lived and worked since their early twenties, even places they had only been for a few months. I was also surprised to see that my grandparents were listed as relatives because they do not know how to use the internet. Both of my grandparents only have flip phones and have never set up a social media account in their life. Before this assignment, I did not realize how easy and legal it was to find someones phone number and home address. This website raised serious questions about how safe it is to list someone’s personal information online, even if it is a public record. I wondered how this website and others like it can affect victims of stalking and domestic abuse, and if there are ways to remove your name from the database.

Attempting to review my google privacy was relatively unsuccessful. My personal email account has a unique domain name that was created through a family Gmail business account in the early days of Gmail. Unbeknownst to me until this assignment, but when the account was created, my parents disabled the location services and web activity search because they were worried about how it would affect our privacy. While that decision may have made this assignment a little less fruitful, it certainly protected my personal information and location over the last 12 years.

Best, Danielle Feinstein

Christian Gomez <>

Here is the URL to my response:

Below is the markdown for my response:

Privacy Footprint - Nov 8

Growing up, I was always told to be mindful of the information that we share online. Well, during a recent information panel with co-op employers, I was shocked to find that it is common for employers to research potential co-op candidates online, specifically on social media, to look for compromisable posts, photos, or other things that would jeopardize a student’s candidacy. While the information was readily available to the public, should we be concerned with the ease of access to personal information online?

Brian Kernighan in his 2017 article, “Understanding the Digital World,” notes that there is a constantly expanding database that stores about a zettabyte, or 1021 bytes, of online information. This heap of information, referred to as “Big Data,” can be utilized by companies, advertisers, or anyone else looking to gain information on individuals for any number of reasons. For example, information about your age, location, and online search history may be valuable to advertisers who can use the information to recommend products to you through targeted marketing.

You may not always realize the information that you may be sharing at all times. Your phone, which most likely is GPS enabled, can constantly track your location, especially if you have apps like Find My iPhone, Yelp, or Snapchat downloaded. While Snapchat makes it obvious that it tracks your location when you take a picture, your phone always keeps data, called metadata, about each picture that you take. I found that even pictures sent to me from friends still show me the phone model, geographic coordinates, date, and time when the picture was taken.

As a photographer, I am aware of metadata and what it can tell you about an image. However, I was intrigued if the data stored on RAW files transferred into the edited JPEGs that I publish online. Utilizing Adobe Bridge, I found that not only did the edited JPEGs possess all the information from the RAW file (focal length, shutter speed, etc.), but also all the edits to the photo that I made in Lightroom. gasps in exposed. All of this data is therefore available to anyone who downloads pictures from my online portfolio. While no geographic data is stored, my location could be found by looking in the background of images or the captions of images that are available to the online public.

Most of us allow certain websites to store information about ourselves, but how can we prevent websites from storing data that we never permitted it to have in the first place? Cara McGoogan had the same issue when she found that Facebook had found her phone number by accessing her friends’ phone contacts, and was allowing her profile to be found by searching her number. Now, even if Cara wanted to dissociate her number from her profile, Facebook could still hold the information in their database, as noted by Brian Kernighan. A good first step in regulating the spill of personal information to the public would be to update privacy settings on websites where you have an account. Additionally, adjusting which apps that can have access to information on your phone, deleting cookies that track your web browsing, and stripping photos of metadata are all good ways to increase what little privacy we may have online.

Even without Facebook, data can be put online without your knowledge. Sites like highlight how much personal information is readily available to the public. I will not include the screenshots, but I was surprised to find that both of my parents’ had information available on this website including age, phone numbers, and family members. I was not expecting this, considering the precautions that my family takes from putting personal information online.

Best, Christian Gomez Resident Assistant, White Hall College of Arts, Media, Design Northeastern University

Emily Herrera <herrera.em>

Privacy Assignment

Starting off with the most shocking thing. I found one of my instagram posts I had posted about two years ago in Rome with my friends in a small bar. Turns out, there’s a site called Stalkture. I clicked around there for a little bit, and then the link clicked to a page that is dedicated to my own instagram Granted, my instagram is not private. Which is one of my young and dumb decisions, but the information is definitely not accurate. The most liked image, the number of comments I get on average. I have a seperate private calculator that does that for me and it says the information is just not right. The follower count isn’t even correct. I find it interesting that there are some photos that are posed as the “most liked image” and that image is used as the top for some ther category. Deeper into the research about this site, I’ve found that it is actually From what I’ve gotten from reading other chat forums is that this is a site that just copies and pastes a feed of social media posts. Similar to the Mcgoogan reading, there is a sense that there is a privacy trust broken, but I’m more suspicious of those that are linked to be of my page’s association. I only know two of these girls, but they are not friends of mine, but friends of friends.

Found an article about my highschool homecoming… which is a horribly unflattering picture. Also, didn’t even know someone wrote about it.

Hayden Jones <jones.hay>

Professor Reagle,

I’ve attached the link to my HackMD page as well as the markdown.

See you in class, Hayden Jones

Privacy footprint

I’ve always been pretty under the radar, especially in high school, but it was taken to a whole new level when I attempted to search myself online. I really expected to be able to find my life story online, but in actuality, it was the opposite.

I first started by searching myself on Intelius. I searched my first and last name along with ‘Virginia,’ since that is where I’m from. There were only four results, and I was not one of them. I decided to try again, except this time I searched for my mother, Eden Jones. She came up very easily, and I found all of the different cities she lived in, places she’s worked at, and all of her relatives. My name was at the bottom of the list, so I clicked on it. There was very little information there. Other than my first and last name, the only accurate information they had in their database was the city I grew up in and both of my parents. However, they didn’t have my age recorded and they had the wrong phone number listed. Instead of my phone number, they had my childhood home’s landline number.

image alt

I was pretty pleased with the results I found on Intelius. I don’t have anything to hide, but I also would rather not have all of my personal information easily accessible.

Next, I clicked on the link that allowed me to see what every browser knows about me. For some reason, my location was not accessible, which carried over when I searched my timeline in Google Maps). Other than what kind of device I was on, it seemed like there wasn’t much personal information.

However, this changed when I looked at my search history. I’ve never thought much about my search history before now, but it really opened my eyes to what I look at online. I’d guess around 80% of my history consisted of David Dobrik videos on Youtube, with the other 20% being WebMD searches, homework, and online shopping. If anyone was interested in what I looked at online, they’d find an embarrassingly large amount of Youtube videos, from which they might be able to infer how old I am.

It got a little more terrifying when I took a look at my personalized advertisements from Google. They gathered from my online activity that I was between the ages of 18 and 24, female, in a sorority, single, and so much more. Even though they noted I was into “Parenting,” they also claimed I wasn’t a parent (which is true, just to confirm). They also accurately guessed my socio-economic status. I have no idea how they can gather that much information from my online activity, but it made me want to throw away my computer.

After McGoogan’s article on Facebook’s privacy settings and my own individual research, I’ve really learned to be more careful about what I reveal about myself online. I wouldn’t want anyone to be able to track me or pose as me on the internet.

Hayden Jones Candidate for Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Communications D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University

Bailey Klafehn <klafehn.b>


Sorry I’m sending in so late, I had a swim meet and it ended pretty late. But here’s the required assignment that’s due tomorrow.

My footprint on the internet was there a lot more than I thought it was going to be. I did find that there were some things that were surprising to me. The biggest thing that I found surprising to me was that on the Intelius search, I, myself, was not found but a lot of my family members were. The top picture was of my dad’s search, I extended the link on family and everyone in that list is either my immediate family or someone who is related to me with the same last name. As you can see, there were 3 results of my dad’s name in the United States, and they all live in the same area. At past family reunions, I have most likely met all 3 of those Dave’s. I wanted to look into what this website had on my family so I clicked on my brother’s, Joe and Alex. Oddly, it had their current living location but nothing really else, other than the family members. The second picture is my brother Joe, there was a were results finding the same person but with different information on each result. After doing that search, I moved onto the search activity from Google. The last picture was of my latest results. I tend to do a lot of swimming searches so I knew that is what was going to be on it. I tried to do the Timeline in Google Maps but it told me that it was turned off.

         I have experienced Facebook also giving out my phone number. I

had someone text me randomly but I was friends with him on Facebook. I asked how he got it and he said Facebook. I was very weirded out because I didn’t think that my number was out there in public for people to see. I guess I never was notified by Facebook that my phone number was public, but I was texted and told that that is where they got it from, I went directly into Facebook and turned off that part in the notification settings. In the article, it states that “Facebook says it only adds a phone number to an account if users confirm it, but it turns out that even unconfirmed numbers can be used to identity people.” I believe that I was one of those numbers that was not confirmed and it was still released.

Thank you, Bailey Klafehn

Marcella Kukulka <kukulka.m>

Hi Prof. Reagle,

I just realized that my email never sent to you, apologies for sending this last minute:

Here is the link to my hackmd assignment:

Here is the markdown:

Privacy Footprint

The right to privacy refers to the concept that a person has a right to control access to their personal information, especially from the public. In an 1890 Harvard Law Review, US Justice Louis Brandeis and attorney Samuel D. Warren called this “the right to be let alone”.

New technologies have made it cheaper to create, store, and analyze data than ever before. As technological innovations increasingly structure people’s lives, individual privacy faces new threats.

Consider your cellphone. In order to provide you with the best cellular service at all times, telephone providers must track your physical location between two cell sites. As a result, Brian Kernighan explains, “A GPS-enabled phone, which includes all smartphones, generally knows where you are to within about 10 meters when you’re outside and can report your position at any time.“

As technological advances have made it easier to store data on smaller devices and data chips, it has become cheaper for companies to store and sort through this data to create a detailed picture of our lives through multiple sources like social media sites, browser search queries, and geo-tracking. Kernighan argues, > In the most benign setting, that information is used to help advertisers target us more accurately, so we will see advertisements that we are likely to respond to. But the tracking need not stop there and its results can be used for much less innocent purposes, including discrimination, financial loss, identity theft, government surveillance, and even physical harm.

While I personally don’t fear tracking for the reasons stated above, as a soon-to-be-graduate, I understand that information about me online can affect my ability to secure a job. Before this practical exercise, I had regularly engaged in privacy checkups of my online footprint, so no results particularly surprised me. A web search of my first and last name will provide links to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Northeastern Dialogue blog, YouTube Channel, Facebook, and news articles I have written for several publications. Image and video searches result in content from these same sources, see below:

I have always kept a tight lock on my social media privacy settings, having my posts only accessible to my friends and listing my contact information for a select number of “close friends”. While Cara McGoogan is concerned about Facebook being able to retrieve her phone number from a variety of sources, I, among others, have become complacent with my expectations of privacy in the digital age. I am not surprised that Facebook has my phone number and I also don’t care that much. Perhaps this is because I have not been the victim of identity fraud or a malicious internet crime. Besides daily spam calls, the fact that people may have access to my phone number has only posed an inconvenience versus an obvious danger. If it was much more of a concern, I would probably consider getting a burner phone for these interactions.

While I do believe in the right to privacy for everyone, I find this topic to be most important in the realm of national security and journalism. For example, back in 2017, the fitness tracking app Strava accidentally revealed the location of secret US military bases in Afghanistan, Syria, and Russia, compromising the safety of thousands of soldiers. Additionally, journalists working in high-rish environments have been killed for trying to report on repressive governments, unjust human rights violations, and military regimes. They must take precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their sources is safe by using end-to-end encryptions for communication, making sure to turn off geo-tracking, and preventing hacking at all costs. At the end of the day, ensuring the privacy for these individuals and organizations, in turn, protects the right to privacy, freedom of speech, liberty and equality for everyone.


Marcella Kukulka +1 (847) 217-1680

Elizabeth Lonergan <lonergan.e>

Hi Professor, Here is the link to my privacy homework:

Here is my markdown for the privacy homework: # Privacy Footprint

November 5, 2019

From a young age, my mother always warned my sisters and I about internet privacy. I was allowed to have a Facebook account when I was 11 (the only social media form really at the time.) From then on, I have always tried to practice online privacy, but what is truly out there that not even I can control?

My Identity

When I first did a Google search of my name, the first thing that came up was an obituary, which was obviously not mine. The next link was to LinkedIn and all the Elizabeth Lonergans, but I was not within the top 20 results. When I image searched my name, I was the sixth photo to appear, and it was my Twitter profile picture. My current twitter account is my only public social media site because I have to use it for another class, but I was surprised it was so high on the search results. When I dug a little deeper, I found an old sailing video of myself. While watching it, and laughing, I saw under related images articles linking to both my sister and mother, which I found peculiar. For their own privacy, I did not take a screenshot.

When doing an Intelius search, the results came up with an incorrect middle initial and phone number but did have my family and place of employment correct.


When looking to see what my browser, I was pleased that they could not pin my location. They could see what type of computer what was on, and what social media I was logged into. Other than that, there was not much on my browser.


Google Privacy

For my Google privacy settings, I ended up taking a privacy check and turning my location tracking off for my email account, which I was surprised was turned on. Other than my location, my browsing history and youtube history was already set to private.

Search Activity

For my search activity, I checked the bundles and found that it was tracking all the ads I have clicked on today, and “bundled” my top activity today including food, my favorite blogger, and my Google slides activity for a group project.

Timeline in Google Maps

Since I do not use Google Maps on my phone, I was not surprised they did not have any location information about my whereabouts.

My ad preferences are turned on, which I do not mind because the ads I see are geared towards clothing, health, and beauty products that I might not have known about if I had not seen the ads. Looking at my preferences, some were from websites I visited today, but others were from websites I had never visited. Even though I had never visited some of these websites, they are popular shopping sites for women my age, so it makes sense I would see those ads.

Social Networks

For this exercise, I looked through my Facebook profile. I have not changed my settings since I first created my page in 2010. Then, my settings were set so no-one had any information about me. Today, the public can see where I go to school, where I live, and my profile pictures. After reading the Telegraph article, I looked to see if Facebook had my number, and it indeed did have it. I believe it has my number because of its messaging app, which I use to communicate with friends around the globe.

Overall, I am not surprised about my internet footprint. I try to be conscious about what I share online. The most knowledge anyone has about me is my ad preferences on Google. I understand this gives a lot of data about myself, but I am not that concerned about those preferences. I believe because I actively try to keep my privacy settings on, I do not feel that violated online.

Thank you.

– Elizabeth Lonergan D’Amore-Mckim School of Business Student

Christophe Lu <lu.chri>

Dear Professor Reagle,

Below is the link to my assignment and the markdown.


Privacy - November 8

My Identity

Upon reading the two articles we were assigned, I immediately realized many different things; from the information that I’ve disclosed online unknowingly, to the times where I’ve just been careless about my own privacy and personal information. Specifically, in Cara McGoogan’s article about Facebook and obtaining phone numbers, she goes through the same process that I did a couple years ago when I found out that Facebook had my phone number. McGoogan does a good job at explaining the multiple possible ways that Facebook “tricks” you, into getting your phone number, and it’s extremely shocking. In Kernighan’s Data and Information, I learned a lot more about how each user is tracked through multiple platforms; whether that be social networking sites, google searches, cloud storages etc. None of this really surprises me, but it is very interesting to read about the different methods and approaches to tracking user behavior and interests. Additionally, I enjoyed the segments about advertising, as Kernighan discussed multiple things we either learned in class, or things that i’ve been exposed to at my previous co-op (eg. Google Adwords and real-time advertisement bidding).

In lieu of privacy, I decided to take a look at my own online footprint.

I first conducted a Google search of just my name, and looked at the results I got for news, images, and videos.

At the moment, there was nothing too surprising; this article was written by a member of the Huntington News after I had won a dance challenge at a organization event. This interview was fun and I remember being a bit shocked that the interviewer was one of my friends.

Then I browsed the images and videos section, which mainly contained a lot of my Youtube video thumbnails, or videos with me in. As you can see in the images section, 4 out of the 5 search results in the second row are all Youtube thumbnails. In the videos section, it was just my YouTube channel and all the videos that I’ve been in before (mainly dancing videos).

Then I conducted a search on Intelius but didn’t find anything substantial since I am from overseas. However, I actually searched up some of my friends and I found some of their information on the site. It’s a bit scary knowing that these sites have such personal information without people knowing it at all.

I also went on, which basically shows you what every webserver knows about you and your computer. I found it very intriguing that such sites can deduce what system of Mac you’re using, the graphics card, and such specific information. Though, I am not surprised at all.

In regards to online recognization, Kernighan briefly discussed the site that could identify each user and tell them how unique they were (Panopticlick). I was extremely curious and I decided to try it and below are my results.

The interesting thing is that my browser fingerprint was unique compared to other respondents; I expected the worst. The biggest takeaway however is the importance of Ublock Origin. Previously, I was running Adblock Plus and Adblocker, two programs that were somewhat outdated and lacking in their activity. After installing Ublock Origin, I didn’t feel that much of a significant difference. However, I paused Ublock Origin and ran the two former programs to see what kind of results I would get and if the theory I had, proved true. Once I ran it on Panopticlick, I found that the results were drastically different.

As you can see, Ublock Origin is significantly better in terms of blocking tracking ads, invisible trackers, and trackers included in the “acceptable ads” whitelist. This really shocked me but I’m glad that Professor Reagle introduced me to Ublock Origin. I have been recommending it to all my friends who have been using Adblock or Adblock Plus.

When it comes to Google, I have always been aware of my privacy and the secrecy of my personal information. Outside of that, when I made accounts with Google and Youtube, I’ve always turned off any tracking-related setting (as shown below). This decreases the risk and possibility of being tracked on any of their sites.

When it comes to Facebook however, I never bothered to check my settings. Through this assignment and the readings in both Kernighan’s chapter, and McGoogan’s article, I have been more aware of my privacy on Facebook. Thus, I made sure to check my privacy settings and change my preferences for how people can find me.

It’s shocking that I had no idea about any of this and Facebook basically sets up these defaults by themselves.

Lastly, among all of these interesting highlights, this one shocked me the most. About a month ago, I realized my Spotify had been hacked; the email associated with my account had been changed and the devices connected to the account were ones I had no idea about. A few months before this, I got continous emails in my inbox regarding suspicious activity and different sign-in locations. I changed my password multiple times but it kept popping up. Finally, I was able to get in touch with Gmail and setup multiple authentication processes in order to secure my account. Additionally, I contacted Spotify to recover my account and change the password for that too.

I didn’t think much of this after it had past…that is, until this assignment. When conducting a search for my email account, I came across something that alarmed me.

It seems as though the owner of these websites, or contributors, knew the password to my email account, as well as my Spotify account. It’s written there clearly, among thousands and thousands of other people’s accounts. The blacked out bars are my password and it’s scary because it’s a fairly secure password, and I use it for many of my other accounts. However, upon seeing this, I have been changing my passwords for all of my important accounts in order to secure my privacy further.

This was an interesting but also eye-opening assignment. I’ve learned so much, not only from the readings, but just from a simple Google search for my email.

Thank you.

Best, Christophe Lu

Jake McConnell <mcconnell.j>

Privacy Footprint


In an initial private browser search of my name, the only link that is solely about me, besides my picture appearing 3rd under images is the “elite prospects” website which apparently lists me as a prospect even though I last played hockey in highschool in 2016. I’m actually more surprised by this search in that it reveals so little about myself as all of the other Jake McConnells dilute my searchability on the web.

Intelius is pretty accurate. It’s kind of scary how they know the first 6 numbers of my phone number and my immediate relatives.

I also find that it’s quite interesting that my browser keeps tabs on which social media sites I’m actively logged into.

My google accounts don’t have access to the Google Maps timeline.

I additionally have accounts on both Ancestry and 23andme that allow others to see how related they are to me. I’ve limited my privacy by preventing content and limiting details that my non-connections can see but having DNA results online poses a huge risk if others are able to take that data and use it maliciously.

I am not as secure as I could be on the internet, but I do frequently use a password manager and am constantly aware of things like credit reporting and dark web reporting. From this assignment, I realized that things can be really difficult if you are a person of interest but if you’re relatively unknown with a common name it makes it much harder for internet stalkers/hackers to target you as a person of interest and find information solely relevant to you. I used to be interested in family trees, specifically through and doing some of the digging for this project inspired me to look back at the connections I’ve made in Ancestry and it’s really amazing to me how much data is available online. Today everything is available online but you can still find census information, in the public records for people who died over 200 years ago.

Kernighan, in D is for Digital, explores the plethora of drawbacks that the digital age has had on one’s personal privacy as he identifies how these digital technologies subvert one’s privacy. Kernighan however explores the nuance between the digital world and privacy as he notes that we are ultimately better off in our digital world, but we must be aware of the potential serious risks of what we disclose online. If someone wanted information on a specific person, they used to have to call in or physically drive down to the country office to search through physical records to find potential criminal history, addresses and other censure information. Today, a background check could be completed online in minutes, scrubbing most of the search engines and internet to expose everything that an individual has done. Many online background checks make you check boxes to ensure that you won’t use the data maliciously but I’m sure people have. People having easy access to others data can definitely be bad, but much of one’s daily privacy breaches are from completely automated systems, big data algorithms, that are able to essentialize a user’s preferences to create prediction models that are scarily accurate. These algorithms can be used to annoyingly sell more targeted ads to more insidious aspects like automated phishing scams because a digital system has determined that a specific user would be gullible enough to click on the links. True digital privacy is quixotic with how much information big companies like Google can derive from a user, but regardless it is important for a user to be mindful of the data they’re sharing online to prevent them from becoming a target for malicious breaches of privacy.

Trevor McDonald <>

tags: CDA

Privacy Footprint

Privacy Online

Facebook is now able to find an individual’s phone number, even for “users who don’t willingly give the company their mobile number,” as explained by Cara McGoogan (2016). If an individual is using the Facebook app on their phone, Facebook is able to look at your phone number and store. This creates a situation where people are oblivious to the fact that their profiles can now be searched for and found through their phone numbers. This is just one example of how people feel like their information is protected online but in actuality, their devices are invading their privacy by tracking and watching them.

These technology companies have massive amounts of information on people including the topic we discussed during class, third party cookies. Third-party companies are able to track an individual across multiple sites to collect information on the user and profile them. According to Brian Kernighan (2017), an example of one of these profiles is “a 25-40 year old single woman in San Francisco that likes technology and good restaurants” (p. 193). These third-party companies are then able to use the profiles to target ads towards the person or sell the information to other companies. Many people are oblivious to the extent they are being tracked and it is an invasion of their privacy. Going further, apps and sites that use location services like google maps, not only know where you are while using the app but even in the background may know “where you are to within 10 meters when you’re outside” (p. 192). Not only are people being tracked online but they are also being tracked in real life and this data is stored.

Does Privacy Matter Online?

This utter lack of privacy, rooted in technology can be a problem. It can be harmful for the fact that potential employers are able to see social media profiles of their candidates that are intended for only family and friends, and secretly judge them on factors that are illegal to ask when interviewing like sexual orientation. More dangerously, some untrustworthy sites that use your location can see where you are at any given time, potentially putting your home at risk for robbery or you to stalking. Another abuse of your privacy which was mentioned in class is that any app you permit to look at your pictures is able to download your entire photo library from your phone onto their server.

Taking Back Control

So what steps can we take to prevent the invasion of our privacy through technology? The main way to protect yourself is to just be more conscious of what you are doing and what information companies have access to. As Brian Kernighan (2017) put it, “it’s wise to be wary” (p. 204). For instance, you can change the settings on sites like Facebook to not allow people to search for you using your phone number, you can use an ad blocker or turn of third party cookies in your browser, and you can change the permissions of many apps and sites to limit as much information you give them as possible. Finally, you can try your best to not put anything that makes you look too bad or unprofessional online.

Self Stalking

It may be worth your time to search for yourself online to see how much public information there is about you. I did this for myself so I searched for my name in google but quickly found that almost all of the results were of a British-Trinidadian journalist with my name.

Next, I searched for my name with my home town and found a lot of sites and articles on me for high school sports, awards I received at the state middle school science fair, and about me as a high school student school board representative. Because of my name being mentioned by the high school on the school board members site the top pictures were of the school board members, not including my picture and a little later there was my picture in the newspaper playing soccer.

When I did an Intelius search for myself I did not come up so I searched for my dad instead. A lot of the information was correct about him like where he has lived, two correct relatives, and some places he has worked. Interestingly however, my name nor my sibling’s names came up on the report and they were also wrong about most of his education and a few other things. Next, I went to my google search activity and found that not only does it hold my google history but the history of every time I use an app on my phone. Then looking at my timeline in google maps I found that it knows pretty much everywhere I have been. For example, there was the location of a parking lot outside of Logan airport that we used once and had been saved. For my google ad preferences, I found that it also had a lot of information about me like my age and gender as well as a lot of the sites I use and things I like. Next, I looked at my facebook privacy settings and found that anyone could find my public profile by searching my phone number, email, or searching my name in a search engine. After seeing this I changed some of my settings to make my profile more secure.

What to do

We can all make efforts to be more private online. But at the end of the day, this lack of privacy can not truly be stopped by the individual and does not typically harm the individual in any drastic way even though it is concerning how much information is collected about us.

Tyler Meadows <meadows.t>

tags: CDA

Privacy Footprint

The Google Search Dilemma

Tyler Meadows: the first year Northeastern student or the MMA fighter? This was the first issue I stumbled upon when trying to simply search “Tyler Meadows” within Google. Apparently there is an MMA fighter with the same name as I, and much more fame. Amongst the list of other Tylers Meadowses there are sex offenders, some exceptional track & field highschooler, and a bunch of other random people.

None of which were me. This provided me with some degree of assurance, then I tried a new method. What would happen if I attached “sailing” to the end of my name? A simple keyword that ended up unlocking the whole puzzle. Doing so will then lead you immediately to sailing articles that I appear in, the website of my summer workplace, all my regatta registrations and results, and even pictures of me that I didn’t even remember. Like this one…

My point being here that individual pieces of personal data are pretty harmless. What’s dangerous is when someone combines data, then they can spark a chain reaction of data flow. Of course through this exercise of doxing myself I knew what information would coencide nicely, but a lot of it probably isn’t that hard to figure out, especially if someone is purposely trying to investigate me and me alone.


Of course however services such as Intelius make this a whole lot easier, or worrisome… depends on your motives here. I did have a profile on Intelius but it only knew my age, likely from public records. My parents however were a different story. Here are the results for my mother.

Some of the information is censored, but nevertheless there was a surprising amount of it. What was really scary was the paid premium version which apparently had even more in depth data. It is clear to see how easy it is for people to figure you out. All they have to do is latch onto the data trail and the rest simply follows. As Brian W. Kernighan puts it, “It’s inevitable that information about us is collected as we use the Internet; it’s hard to do anything without leaving tracks” (Kernighan, 2017).

Google Services

Finally we arrive at the Google services that deal with privacy. The most surprising was the google maps timeline which apparently stores all your known locations from any point in the past, just a click or two away. Luckily the site didn’t seem to have information on me, but that’s not certain. Location related data does creep me out a little, and I usually disallow location services whenever I can, same goes for camera and microphone accessibility.

What doesn’t creep me out through is the Google activity service and ad personalization. I personally find both services very helpful. For instance I recently used the Google activity to find a pair of shoes I had looked at a month ago. Unless your doing weird stuff on the internet you really have no reason to fear this tool. We also have the infamous ad personalization which collects your precious cookies and all that. I usually use an adblocker, but where it slips through I’d rather see something I might be interested in than not. Honestly if your a responsible person on the web and don’t have anything to hide these tools are harmless, or rather helpful.

Noah Ossanna <ossanna.n>

Hi professor Reagle,

Here is the link to my response on Privacy for today’s class:

I also wanted to let you know that I could not find any background checking websites that would give me information without a fee or email registration. I did not feel comfortable entering an email so I instead decided to talk about the provocative nature of various sites and how they seemed to support a paywall theory of getting personal information easily. I hope this is sufficient… I found them to be curious, interesting, and mostly sketchy. Let me know what you think!

Here is my Markdown:


From Kernighan and McGoogan

As if leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, our online activities project a shadow of personal information for all to see. From common queries to social media profiles and preferred vendors, this information is easily accessible and often closely networked. Information like a phone number can unearth emails, business affiliations, and even locations, all while operating without the consent of the subject of a search. According to McGoogan (2016), sites like Facebook streamline people searches from their phone numbers and source addresses from a variety of locations if they are not provided by users. Unsurprisingly, overlooking device access to contacts and profile information has backfired for many users who are shocked by Facebook’s ability to glean personal information without their knowledge.

Though invasive to some, such a breach could be argued as practical. Facebook gives its users easier search characteristics, advertisers gain more access to what people what, and consumers can more easily build their networks around the people and products they like. If it were not for the high value of knowledge, this would be a win-win but like all information, the result of its use is a measure of intention. Kernighan’s (2017) chapter on the implications of public data points out how the accessibility of publically available information has changed. Whereas before, public databases required physical interaction and effort, online profiles of individuals are now accessible with less overhead and from the comfort of one’s home. For criminals and basement dwellers, this means that our information is more easily accessible with even confidential information being publicly available for a price on sites such as and

My Thoughts and Findings

I do have my concerns about the accessibility of personal information on the web but also find some of the dynamics of the situation to be funny and useful. I certainly enjoy a fair amount of the algorithmic suggestions that the web makes for me based on data I generate from regular usage. Quick searches, auto fill-ins, and deal notifications save time and effort, even if they are annoying and invasive. Plus, I cannot count how many times the search ‘gas stations near me’ was a life-saver on Co-op. But here, I used Safari on an Iphone for these which denied a fair amount of tracking and location data in comparison to Google’s use of time lines for tracking. As expected, my Google location timeline was empty when using my PC which only seems to have a rough guess of where I am. This is also likely a product of me mainly using an Iphone while traveling which excludes Google usage.

The result of searching for ‘my location’ on Google:

Google’s lack of location history for me:

My lackluster presence on Google’s location services was compensated by its incredible accuracy in predicting my advertisement preferences. Building off of McGoogan’s point of Facebook’s use of various sources to construct searches and content, I cannot say that I am surprised that most of my suggested adds from Google are related to drones, electronics, and engineering. I am a nerd and a tinkerer at heart but apparently over 65 years old according to Google. An image search of myself highlights a similar trend though, so at least they got it partially right!

A Picture of my add preferences according to Google: I also find it rather humerous that CheckPeople showed up after I spent a fair amount of time navigating their sketchy site.

An image search of my name on Google:

Aside from interesting findings and jokes though, my general feeling aligns with those of McGoogan and Kernighan who share my concern regarding the potential misuse of this data. Though widespread, everyone’s information exists and is waiting for someone who has the time and motives to put together the puzzle. I was especially alarmed by the sheer amount of background-checking websites that were available. I decided to do a sweep of my parents and was enticed by some provocative results. Specifically, I found no website that let me perform these searches for free or without an email despite numerous adds spouting ‘Free without email’ or ‘Only a name and town required’. Sites like boasted free use only to charge fees after forcing me to wait through numerous loading screens.

A fee notification that I encountered on Checkpeople:

Moreover, multiple loading screens boasted lines like ‘Sensitive information found!” which further incentivized misguided users to waste their money. However again, the fact that such sites exist and are accessible to anyone is frightening as only a minor paywall separates potential criminals from my personal information. To this end, I felt a bit uneasy and even dirty after attempting these searches on people I knew.

In Conclusion…

Overall, I believe that the benefits of accessing consumer data are clear. Information like location tracking can make it easier for us to find places faster and connect with friends. But privacy is equally important as users have a right to separate their digital and physical presence from those who may seek to undermine their wellbeing. With the sheer magnitude of connection we now share with the internet, it basically impossible to benefit from its knowledge without leaving a footprint. To this end, the use of the web is a trade-off between acquired knowledge and often involuntarily donated data. It is up to the user to decide if accessing this wealth of information is worth the cost and I would wager to say that for most, it is.

Best regards, Noah Ossanna

Noah Ossanna Principal Lead Northeastern UAV, AerospaceNU Candidate for B.S. Mechanical Engineering 2021

Kaitlin OSullivan <osullivan.ka>

Hi Professor Reagle,

I have attached the link to the required Privacy Assignment:

Here is the markdown for that page:


While doing the web search, I surprisingly did not find my face or name pop up as a top search. Here are a couple screenshots of what showed up when I typed my name in on google.

2) Intellius

Using intellius, I also was unable to find a lot of information about myself. Even by typing in my phone number, the wrong pinpointed location showed up. In this photo, none of the results of a ‘Katy O’Sullivan’ were mine.

3) Browser

This part was the scariest for me. Just by clicking on the website Professor Reagle linked to this assigment, it was able to show me information regarding the actual hardware of my computer, most of which I wasn’t aware of. It even could tell if my computer was charging or not and what percentage of battery I had.

4) My Privacy (google)

I was not surprised when I did my google privacy check and started off with my search activity. I mainly use google chrome as my search engine and do not use incognito mode, therefore seeing all the websites I had visited was not shocking. However, I thought that the location/timeline of my whereabouts would be logged in google maps but it had no information of my location since I had been using this computer. When I went to look at my google privacy settings I noticed that I had location history put on pause. Finally, when I visited my google ad preferences I didn’t realise I had ad personalisation turned on. This is probably because I have been using adblocker for quite a while now and usually do not see ads pop up regularly. It thus made sense to me when the personalisation categories were quite limited and some were not really representative of my regular choices.

5) Social Networks

Out of the social networks Professor Reagle listed on the assignment, I only use one which is Facebook. I hadn’t updated my privacy settings for quite a while so I was expecting them to not really fully protect my privacy. To my surprise, most of my settings were either only modes that were locked for me or only viewable by my immediate facebook friends, which was quite a relief. With just a few more edits I was able to make my facebook profile a little more secure.

Response to “Data And Information” by Brian W. Kernighan

According to a poll taken by Statista on Online Privacy in 2019, in the US, 81% of online users felt that their data was vulnerable to hackers. So if most of the population feels this way, why do they continue to put their information out there on social media or use the internet as ways to save sensitive personal data? For whatever reason, too many people place their trust in these small devices, hoping that some sort of security protocol set up by these giant tech companies will be able to save them from hackers and thieves. However, it is clear that despite technology now being able to carry more information and provide better efficiency, it makes it so much easier for those with malicious intentions (or not) to capture our information. Discussing four main ways our privacy can be impeded on; web searches, database information creations, data aggregation & mining and the cloud, Kernighan touches upon how our security on the internet can so easily be penetrated.

In his chapter, Kernighan talked about the web search process from a user and server perspective, reminding me a lot about our discussion in an earlier unit on the Internet 101. In addition to that unit, he also brought up the idea of tracking and cookies. This connection between websites and cookies was solidified throughout this chapter. Most of what he said was not too surprising to me, for we had learned that webpages and the presence of cookies allow for sites to track people and identify their preferences. However, when I did my privacy checks and remembered the adblocker assignment, I wondered how this would apply to me. I very rarely see ads pop up and assume that because I have two adblockers installed, I do, to some extent, have the first line of defense against cookies being implanted on my device. When Kernighan wrote that sometimes tracking was just based on preferences and did not always require cookies, I was not surprised when my google history search and account showed some of my preferences of sites I usually visited.

I was also surprised by his in-depth analysis of Adobe Flash player and Javascript. I would not have expected that these applications that are meant to help me load videos are also working behind the scenes to collect information on me. The most shocking information on Java script was how they can even monitor the position of my mouse and “monitor places where you clicked even if they weren’t sensitive areas like links.” Reading about this was quite concerning and made me not want to update the adobe flash player on my device.

I expected this assignment to show how I put too much information out there. However, to my surprise, I am a lot secure than I expected to be. When I read Kernighan’s chapter and completed the tasks for this assignment, I found a few of the topics hard to apply to my life. In addition to rarely seeing targeted advertisements, I also do not utilize cloud storage for personal information and only use it for university-related assignments. However, I will not let this exercise allow me to believe that I am as secure as I ever will be. As Kernighan wrote, even if I only show one identifying a piece of information about myself, it does not mean that hackers wouldn’t be able to piece things together and find out more about me. I must continue to be wary of what information I put out on the internet.

Kind Regards,

Kaitlin O’Sullivan

Samuel Platzman <platzman.s>

Dear Dr. Reagle,

Below I have attached the link and markdown for the privacy footprint assignment. Honestly I found some of the information found by Intelius and those associated with the google maps timeline quite eerie, but I had a lot of fun digging up the information. Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely, Samuel Platzman.



Privacy Footprint


Google Searches:




Intelius Search (of my father):

What Every Browser Knows about Me:


Search Activity:

Timeline in Google Maps:

Google Ads Preferences:


The notion of privacy, anonymity, and safety on the Internet could be stripped away from the security we feel in mindlessly perusing the internet: everything is being tracked and traced. In the case of Cara McGoonan’s “How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?”, her growing concern with Facebook’s unwanted access to her phone number, and provision of her name to anyone who had her number, led her to being fearful of possible malicious targeting. If one’s name, phone number, and associative photos had all been made public because their phone number had been linked in an unverifiable way to their account, through others contacts or other information, Facebook reasons that anyone with access to the phone number can justifiably also have access to the name of the person and other account information; the potential concern with this arises in the use of random phone number generators, where criminals could potentially skim surface, or even deeper levels of information just by clicking a button on their computer. In trying to perform this operation on myself, I soon realized that much of the information associated with the name “Platzman” gets quickly drowned out by Daniel Platzman, the drummer for Imagine Dragons. While some outstanding information comes by way of Facebook, HackMD, and my high school’s research group, a quick Google search does not yield much information about myself. The more daunting information comes when performing an Intelius search of my father, where the database was able to spit out all of the phone numbers he had ever had, including home, work, and cell phone numbers. On top of this, the database had information about my personal family, such as relatives, and locations. A deeper dive into more personal levels of information yielded a clear distinction between my results when relaxing and when studying, showing a high concentration of Youtube results in the former, and Northeastern related material with the latter. On top of this, Google is able to geolocate your devices in order to associate your searches with areas, in a way that makes it seem like it knows what you are looking for before you do. With regards to privacy, I am fearful of the capability of websites like Facebook that are able to easily infer and self-verify data from the abundance of users they have to automatically pin a profile with personal identifiers. Alongside, McGoonan’s concerns for the potential of this information to make far more data become openly available, it is vital that people take measures to protect their information, and to differentiate what should be made public or private online.

Kevin Shenk <shenk.k>

Hello Professor Reagle,

Here’s the link to my 5th wiki assignment page:

Below is the markdown:

Privacy Footprint Wiki Assignment

November 3rd, 2019

Articles Discussed:

Brian W. Kernighan, 2017, “Data and information,” D Is for Digital,, ch=11. Cara McGoogan, 2016, “How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?”

Data and Information

Are we the ones searching or are we just getting searched? It seems as though with the recent trends of online advertisement and searching, searching for something online leads in us leaving trails to be searched about. Recent technology and big data has only made it easier for Internet users to be constantly tracked and identified based on their web behavior.

Around a year and a half ago, I learned about Ghostery, which is mentioned in the article by Kernighan and installed it to see how it works. Needless to say, I was astounded by how many trackers there were on any of the given websites that I’d visit on a normal basis.

While browsing

It’s almost comical at this point that there were 25 trackers on the website, many of which lead back to big names such as Adobe and Google.

The further I read on in the article, the more I wanted to question how this was all possible. We allow ourselves to put information online and let it be known what we do. Many of us make purchases and life decisions online, but this all seems to bite back at us in one way or another. For sure the Internet allows for infinite possibilities, but as I’ve stated in previous responses, it all comes at a cost.

How Did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to


It’s alarming to realize that there’s probably less things that Facebook doesn’t know about you than the amount of things they do know about you. I remember when I started to use Facebook more, and my parents gave me a quick chat to not post any personal information on there. As much as I’ve avoided giving out personal information to various websites and services, sharing personal identifiers such as phone numbers or email addresses are almost mandatory in order to login/use many services.

I’m not surprised by the amount of information that Facebook has access to, what’s more alarming is how people don’t realize just how much of their personal information is compromised. Facebook has found unique ways to obtain more information about people and their friends, and their friends of their friends and so forth. As the article noted, just by combining a few personal identifiers, we’re able to learn and search about a person much better (or worse, depending on how you think of it). When I searched my name on Facebook, I was glad to see that I was not any of the top results. Perhaps if I didn’t search while in an incognito window and had logged into some sites, maybe I would appear in the top few results.

Facebook is able to collect lots of data on us and unfortunately we’ve allowed it to be that way for too long. Even though McGoogan’s article was published in 2016, much of what’s mentioned is still relevant, if not more relevant now.

Various screenshots of search results are shown below

Just my name on Google Nice to see that my LinkedIn profile appears at the top since I’m searching for jobs!

Searching my name through Google image search First six images seem to be unrelated to me. The sixth photo interestingly leads to my LinkedIn page, but instead shows a photo of David Parkes, a colleague at my previous job

Interestingly, the further I scrolled down, the more images that were actually relevant to me (or my content appeared). The top right image, the bottom left image and the second to last image were actually of me (or my photo), but the others were people who I do not know.

Conducting a Google News or Google Video search did not yield any prominent results that actually related to me.

Luckily, the search I conducted on Intelius yielded only vary basic results about me that could be found anywhere else.


Kevin Shenk

Vishakh Talanki <talanki.v>

Hi Dr. Reagle,

Here’s my reading response, along with it’s markdown

Digital Privacy

During my sophomore year of high school, I received a 0 for an assignment in chemistry. When I inquired about the reason, I discovered it was because I put down “Vishakh T” as my name, as opposed to “Vishakh Talanki”. Reluctantly, I added the 6 extra letters and waited another week for my grade to update.

Due to my parents giving me a rather unique name, my digital privacy situation is rather unique. For example, some of my friends have more common names.

When signing up for online services such as email or social media, their usernames are usually their name, with a string of numbers after. Mine’s just my name. I’ve never had to add on a string of numbers, nor has the username I’ve wanted ever been taken.

When I google my friends, all I find are pictures of random people, or occasionally a news article.

When my friends google me, articles, images, and videos all show up. Even though most people don’t go past the first page of results on google - they just change the search words - I still show up on the 7th page, and even further.

My Identity

Most of these results are things that I expect: my profiles from various websites. While I don’t particularly remember the 3rd result, the rest is familiar.

Most of these images are from profile pictures, video thumbnails, or pictures from news articles. One interesting phenomenon is that, since Google+ was taken down (April 2019), photos of my friends and I show up much less frequently.

The videos follow a similar pattern. The first two are videos of performances from my childhood (thanks mom). The second two, I presume, come up when my name is searched because I commented on those videos.

Doing a free search yielded some interesting, but not accurate information. I’ve chosen to omit an image as to not further expose my information. Both my parents come up as results. However, there are misspelled names and incorrect phone numbers.

What your browser knows about you

Upon using this website, I was able to see how much information the web can have regarding me. I used this website on my laptop, but I suspect that if I were to open it on mobile, they would take even more information (due to the phone having more sensors). While I understand some information may contribute to my experience, I can’t imagine why facebook needs to know my battery percentage.


While it’s common knowledge that Google has a scary amount of information about everyone, it’s still surprising to see how much they have. Since I have an android phone, they really do have a lot: from what time I wake up to how many times I open a certain app.

Social Networks

Social Media is all about sharing with family and friends. However, we still want our privacy. While I do keep most of my social media on private, I did still change some Facebook settings.

In the end, the internet is a huge place. We can try to protect our digital privacy by changing privacy settings, but our information will always be found.

In fact, a couple of days ago, my dad sent me a link to a previous reading response. Turns out, googling my name also yields my HackMD page. So dad, if you’re seeing this, hi!

Companies do have some impact on this. Metcalfe’s law says that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users. Meanwhile, Reed’s law states that the value of the network is proportional to 2^N, where N is the number of users. Therefore, it would be in a companies best interests to get lots of users and form as many connections as they can.

However, they’ve started to be slightly unethical about it. Cara McGoogan states here that facebook has been acquiring phone numbers in order to boost connections without users consent.

As stated by Kernighan, It’s wise to be wary. The internet is a big and scary place. It’s a great way to connect with loved ones, but it’s also prone to hackers and people with malintent.

Thanks, Vishakh T

Anneesha Uno <uno.a>

Hi Professor Reagle,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted you to look at the first part of my privacy assignment. I made sure I did not reveal any of my personal information, since the zoominfo that I found mostly gave info about my past employer and the Intelius search were of people unrelated to me. However, I was unsure if you want these to be eliminated from the final product? Please let me know, thank you so much for your attention. I really appreciate it.

All the best, Anneesha Uno


Mark down:

Privacy Footprint Assignment

Google search on my identity:

Awhile ago, I disabled a function that allows google find my Facebook account. When I did a google search of my name, the only profile that came up was my Linkedin profile. I worked as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant for the Center of Community Service at NEU and my current occupation showed up on the very top of my search.

I am not from the United States, so when I did an Intelius search of myself and my parents, I did not find anything. I found other people with my last name, but they were not related to me. Here’s a screenshot of the Intelius search:

Zoom Info:

I was shocked to discover that has my information. It is not too detailed. This page has my first and last name, the company that I worked at (BCG), and my work email. The other things that I found through my google search were expected but not this one. This website makes money out of my information, because to access my direct phone and email, other people has to subscribe and pay to I guess I never knew that someone can benefit from my professional profile.


I used NEU’s computer and I was pretty impressed of how this link was able to identify the things that I am currently doing with the device. Again, this is a reminder for me to be more careful when accessing websites and such things on public computers but also my computer.


I do not have my own gmail account but I have my husky mail linked with gmail. Due to this, I did not find a lot on my search activity because it wasn’t documented since I mostly was not signed in. However, I found that the “Ads Personalization” function was on - meaning that the advertisements I encountered were tailored specifically according to my internet activity. Due to this assignment, I turned it off and I hope it helps me to escape some unnecessary advertisements.

Social Networks:

I use Facebook and I have always been very paranoid about who can locate me or see my photos. Due to this, I changed the setting so that only my friends or friends of friends can access my posts.

Here is what the back-end of my Facebook privacy setting looks like:

I know that it is impossible for criminals to know about me or target me just through doing these efforts, but I believe doing this is better than having all of my information out there.

Anneesha Uno <uno.a>

Hi Professor Reagle, Here is the link and markdown of my privacy assignment. See you tomorrow!

Best Regards, Anneesha Uno



Privacy Footprint Assignment

Google search on my identity:

A while ago, I disabled a function that allows google to find my Facebook account. When I did a google search of my name, the only profile that came up was my Linkedin profile. I worked as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant for the Center of Community Service at NEU and my current occupation showed up on the very top of my search. I shared this screenshot because I do not think this will harm my privacy. In fact, I am hoping that my future employer will be able to see this.

I am not from the United States, so when I did an Intelius search of myself and my parents, I did not find anything. I found other people with my last name, but they were not related to me.

Zoom Info:

I was shocked to discover that Zoom Info has my ”business” information. It is not too detailed. This page had my first and last name, the company that I worked at, and my work email. The other things that I found through my google search were expected but not this one. This website makes money out of my information - because to access my phone and email, other people have to subscribe and pay to Zoom Info. I guess I never knew that someone can benefit from my professional profile.


I used NEU’s computer and I was pretty impressed with how this link was able to identify the things that I am currently doing with the device, such as the type of operating system I am on and so forth. Again, this is a reminder for me to be more careful when accessing the internet and/or websites on public computers and my computer.


I do not have my own Gmail account but I have my Husky mail linked with Gmail. Due to this, I did not find a lot on my search activity because it was not documented since I was not signed in. However, I found that the “Ads Personalization” function was on - meaning that the advertisements I encountered were tailored specifically according to my internet activity. Through doing this assignment, I was able to find out about this and turned it off. I hope this helps me to avoid some unnecessary advertisements.

Social Networks:

I use Facebook and I have always been very paranoid about who can locate me or see my photos. Due to this, I changed the setting so that only my friends or friends of friends can access my posts.

Here is what the back-end of my Facebook privacy setting looks like:

I know that it is impossible for me to be invisible in the eyes of criminals just through doing these efforts, but I believe doing this is better than having all of my information out there.

Reading Engagement: “Data and information” by Brian W. Kernighan

I felt like going back in time when doing the reading. Kernighan started by explaining servers, requests, and so forth – basically how the back-end of a webpage works when we search for something and browse the internet. There was a significant discussion of third party cookies in this reading, which reminds me of the materials from the beginning of the semester.

I was amazed by JavaScript Code’s abilities to track internet users. For example, I knew that JavaScript could save our browser history and access cookies, but I was not aware that JavaScript can go as far as “monitoring the position of a mouse and report back to a server” (p.195). JavaScript also has the ability to see which part of a webpage we clicked even though it was not a link. Through knowing this information, advertisers will have information on which area of the web an individual is more likely to look at. I found this to be very alarming, because it is one thing to have information on what links and pictures we viewed, but it is very advanced for software to know where a user’s cursor had been.

Kernighan argued that only showing one identifying information and eliminating others to hide someone’s identity is harmless. Therefore, doing this will not expose one’s identity to the outside world. For example, criminals cannot identify one specific user by knowing the neighborhood they currently browse from. Nonetheless, it became dangerous when advertisers or criminals started combining information through other sources and being able to build a person’s identity. Of course, when someone has too much information on another individual – this can be used to steal their credit card information and so forth. The digital age has made our lives easier, but it has also exposed us to being targeted by criminals due to the amount of information about us being freely available out there (online).

Many people including high schoolers, college students, and employees of prestigious companies use Cloud Computing. I use Cloud Computing because I truly love how convenient it is. I do all of my work on my Google docs and I can use any computer from any server to access my projects. Convenient, right? However, Kernighan highlighted that as storing our data in the cloud becomes more prevalent, the downside is that it has more difficult privacy. Kernighan addressed his worry in using Cloud Computing and if it were ever to be hacked – will he be blamed or sued by his students? Kernighan mentioned that when he used Princeton’s cloud, at least, the institution will be the one getting into trouble instead of him.

It is unfortunate that my father and a few of my close friends had been victims of credit card theft. I am really worried about this. I try to not access suspicious sites or give any personal information to random and/or promotional caller. I hope that I will not be a victim of credit card theft and I am trying my best to not leave trails for criminals to take advantage of me.

Roy Wang <>

tags: CDA


Reading Response

Almost all of your interactions with computers generate data that can be collected about you. Even when your data doesn’t have your real name attached to it, people can make connections between your data on different websites to draw conclusions about you. Google handles over three billion web searches a day. Search engines are prepared for queries by having tons of pages already stored on their server. Web crawlers often have to visit the same site multiple times because websites are often updated with new information, like stock prices and Twitter feeds. Web crawlers need to assess how often pages change in order to determine how often they need to visit the same page. Advertisers bid for space for advertisements along search results. This relates to our discussion of advertising, and how advertisers pay for advertisements with cost per thousand interactions and also cost per click algorithms. There are many forms of tracking mechanisms, including cookies and JavaScript. Third party cookies can infer what websites users have visited when the same third party cookie is requested for multiple sites. To prevent being tracked by third-party advertisers, it is important to use an Adblocker like AdBlock Plus. I was surprised at the amount of data that my computer collects. I didn’t realize that my browser collects data about my battery life and screen resolution. This reminds me of when I used the Tor Browser, which said to avoid opening the browser in full screen because websites can track users based on their screen size.

– Thanks


Jessica Weiss <weiss.j>


Privacy footprint


Upon searching Jessica Weiss, I did not find any sites, images or videos associated with me.

In order to narrow my results, I searched Jessica Weiss Northeastern University, and found the following: - my LinkedIn page - the Northeastern University Panhellic Council website (I am the President of my sorority), along with this picture: neu-aephi pic

I also searched Jessica Weiss aephi and found another picture of myself: exec board aephi pic

Finally, I searched Jessica Weiss Friends Central School (the name of my high school), and found: * this local news article about an award I had won during my senior year

Next, I did an Intelius search of my name, as well as my phone number and my parents’ names. For my name, I did not find any results. Upon searching my phone number, there was a result tracking the number to Philadelphia, PA (my hometown), but I was unable to view the result without paying a fee.

When I searched my mother’s name, she was the first search result to appear. However, some of her information was incorrect. Her age, location and relatives were accurate, but her previous work and education was wrong. In order to make sure this search result was correct, I clicked on my father’s name, listed as the first relative.

My father’s information was completely accurate. Given that he is a federal employee, I know that a significant amount of his information is public. Through my father’s result, I was actually able to find my own Intelius page. On my page, though my sister and father are listed as relatives, my mother strangely is not.

Lastly, I checked my sister’s name, which was similar to my mother’s page in that her age and location was accurate. However, her past work places and relatives were incorrect. For example, another woman with the same name as my mother was listed incorrectly as her relative.


Although webkay may not always be correct, a browser’s ability to track the websites an individual has visited can produce suprisingly accurate information about that individual. Additionally, the use of Google Geolocation API allows a browser to track your exact location. In order to prevent a browser from discovering this information through social networks, it is recommended that users logout, utilize incognito tabs, or download NoScript which also secures hardware and software information. The article, What every browser knows about you, provides additional tips for safeguarding against having your browser leak personal information.

Google MyActivity

My search activity reflected recent searches I had conducted, including: - a cauliflower gnocchi recipe - information about bacteria called, Wolbachia for my biology assignment - directions to a friend’s apartment - directions to a yoga studio - correct APA style formatting (for my favorite class, Online Communities!)

My GoogleMaps timeline did not reflect any location history.

My GoogleAds Preferences reflected personal characteristics about me such as my age and gender, as well as certain interests that are relevant to my hobbies and daily life. Below are screenshots of some of my listed preferences:

Google Dashboard

Under Popular Google Services, my Google Dashboard shows 22,374 conversations on Gmail, and only my former address is listed on GoogleMaps.

My other Google services reflect the following:

Reading Response

Picture a time when your belongings, whereabouts, interests, friends, opinions, memories and thoughts were your own. Now picture our current reality, where every private bit of information about you is shared, if not with other people than with your technology.

The more individuals become reliant on their devices, the more information is being revealed, tracked and stored by our browsers. Though our browser history might only know the last few websites we visited for a homemade casserole recipe, or directions to a popular nightclub, these searches, known as metadata, craft a narrative about us. In his research, Brian Kernighan, exemplifies the significance of metadata through “Facebook likes,” which can predict one’s gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, political leaning and so forth. He writes, “[b]efore sending mail, posting or tweeting, pause a moment and ask whether you would be comfortable if your words or pictures appeared on the front page of the New York Times or as the lead story on a TV news program.” Because our information is more accessible than ever through our browser history, even deleted content will never truly disappear.

Kernighan goes on to explain how other technological advances, such as cloud computing – “using a browser or a phone to access and manipulate information that is stored on Internet servers” – hinders our privacy online. While other countries have developed solutions to removing truly private information from Google search results, such as the European Union’s “Right to be Forgotten,” the United States still collects arguably more private information than any other country, as further demonstrated by Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information from the NSA in 2013.

In her writing, Cara McGoogan echoes the fear that many Americans have felt in response to the amount of private information collected by our government. For instance, though McGoogan never confirmed her cell phone number on Facebook and even saved her number under a different name on a separate phone, the same number still appeared in her Facebook settings. While Facebook defends its data collection by claiming it aims to ensure users can connect with their contacts easily, this realization is quite disturbing. In response to such troubling information, Kernighan urges us to ask ourselves whether we really even need to use social networks. Is it still possible to return to a reality where your privacy is truly your own?

Link to homepage: Jessica Weiss Northeastern University, College of Arts, Media & Design, Class of 2019 e-mail — | phone — (484) 326-6584