On Sunday afternoon, you catch up on the week’s baseball highlights on YouTube. By Monday, every app you click shows you ads for baseball mitts, bats, and jerseys. It’s as if the entire internet knows that you like baseball!
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Most apps are constantly gathering data. They track what videos people watch, what games they play, and what they search for.
The recent findings of a company called Pixalate support this. Pixalate studied nearly 400,000 apps directed at children. It found that many of the apps track kids’ online activity.
But apps aren’t supposed to collect this information about kids. It’s generally illegal to gather online data from kids under 13 without their parent’s permission.
Many companies argue that they don’t know they’re tracking children. Some apps don’t confirm people’s ages. So they may gather kids’ names, email addresses, and other personal details along with those of adults.
What worries experts is that many people have no idea that they’re being watched online.