Behind the Web's Dark Shadows: Who’s following you?

A cool new site called Me & My Shadow lets you find out which traces of digital data you leave behind as you surf

Who knows what evil data lurks in the heart of Interwebs? The shadow, of course. Or rather, Me & My Shadow, a wicked cool Web site that shows you how many digital breadcrumbs you drop behind you as you journey across the Web, use your smartphone, shop online, and access public networks.

Created by an online activism group called the Tactical Technology Collective, the site is designed to “help you explore the digital shadows you cast, and provide you with means to change their size and shape.”

The site is divided into three parts. In Trace My Shadow, you enter information about the devices and services you use (Windows PC, Android phone, Twitter or Facebook, and so on) and where you use them, and it generates a graphic showing you where your data is going.

my shadow traces-600p.png

I got 99 cases but a snitch ain’t one.

For example, there are five shadows collecting my geolocation info – my mobile operating systems, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Five shadows are collecting my credit card info, and seven are snarfing up my email address. All told, I have 59 discrete bits of digital info being shared about me (the average, says the site, is 31).

What can you do about this? Well part two of the site, the Shadow Tracers Kit, links to several tools I have written about in this space over the last year -- including Ghostery, Collusion, and PrivacyScore -- that show you some of the information that online trackers and other sites collect. You’ll also find links to privacy tools that let you block online tracking, change your computer’s MAC address, wipe out all your social media profiles, and reveal the information your iPhone and other devices are collecting about you.

Part three, the Lost in Small Print section, takes the EULAs of popular social media services, parses out the legal gobbledygook, and condenses them to their essential meaning. As I write this, though, the only EULA they’ve deconstructed is Twitter’s.

me & my shadow twitter eula cropped.png

(That above screen shot has been edited somewhat to better fit your computer monitor. No animals were harmed in the process.)

I have to say that Me & My Shadow is one of the coolest pro-privacy sites I’ve seen of late, and it looks like it will only get better. A hat tip to Shaun Dakin of @PrivacyCamp for directing me to it.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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