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Who's tracking your online shopping habits?

Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 30, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS -- It's the busiest shopping day of the year on the Internet: Cyber Monday.
 
Unlike shopping in stores, online you really can't see who is watching your every move.
 
“Anytime there's money to be spent, there's people out there trying to get your money,” said Timothy Maniscalo.
 
Maniscalo is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.
 
He says this Cyber Monday, shoppers are expected to spend billions on items for their loved ones, and themselves, and companies are shelling out big bucks to third-party web trackers who monitor and report what you check out online and what you eventually buy.
 
"It can be big companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook,” Shruti Gupta explained.
 
Gupta is a research assistant at Purdue University studying how to collect information about what people have been up to online.
 
"That's what advertising is heading towards. Targeted advertising is all about it these days,” she said.
 
In this case, "it" is tracking your every click on the websites and how long you stay on each page.
 
"They know now if you're looking at a certain item, lo and behold 15 minutes later you'll go somewhere else and boom an ad will pop up,” Maniscalo said. 
 
Gupta says one sign your shopping habits are being watched is when you see the Facebook "like" or Twitter "share" buttons.
 
She says that means those sites are storing your cookies – in other words: data about your browsing habits – so they know each time when you return to shop for more. 
 
Third-party web trackers can also figure out where you are logging in to do your shopping from, but Gupta says they don’t actually know who you are, just your habits.
 
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