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You Better Watch Out!

October 14, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
Have you ever noticed when you pull up a web page that something related to what you have just searched for pops up in the top banner?

Apparently I've been looking at boots online way too often, because a couple of weeks ago the exact pair of boots I had purchased (not even online, but at the store) popped up on the side of a page.

Big Brother is paying attention.

A couple of years ago, after I had posted a blog about my son's Epiduo TV commercial, lo and behold, an Epiduo banner appeared on my blog page — with his picture on it! I took a screen shot of that one!

Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, DSW ... they're always coming up on pages that I'm browsing. What's that tell you! And today, a lot of car banners are rotating. Well, I have been visiting the VW site recently.

Oftentimes I might put something in a virtual shopping cart at Amazon or other such online shopping site, but not actually order it. A few days later, I'm reminded via email that I "left something" in my cart.

Thank you very much for the reminder, but chances are, I've decided against the purchase.

But the weirdest "big brother" moment was when I got an email a couple of weeks ago from

"We noticed you were looking at a Catherine Malandrino gown ...."

They "noticed"? How did they know that???? Well, I guess I had put a particular item in my "favorites."

But, still, I felt a bit violated in the privacy department.

Whenever I mention these strange coincidences to my husband Bruce, he merely says, "cookies."

I know. I know.

There is some internal computer thing called "cookies" that tracks my every move.

Here is Wikipedia's definition of cookies:

"Cookies are not software. They cannot be programmed, cannot carry viruses and cannot install malware on a host computer. However, they can be used by spyware to track user's browsing activities — a major privacy concern that prompted European and U.S. lawmakers to take action. Cookies can also be stolen by hackers to gain access to a victim's web account."

And here is's definition of cookies:

"A message, or segment of date, containing information about a user sent by a Web server to a browser and sent back to the server each time the browser requests a Web page."

And I remember when I thought telephone party lines were intrusive!

So whether on the computer or even way back when there were party lines, someone is always watching or listening.

Sounds like good impetus to always keep our nose clean, doesn't it?

And, by the way, anyone out there remember party lines?


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