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You're typically not really anonymous online

One prevailing myth about the internet is that you're basically anonymous while you're using it. While this can be true in some situations, much of what you do online is actually tracked.

For example, Google has records of the searches that you conduct. You can even read the list, if you want, for a given year. It will show you how many searches there were, what you were looking for and all the rest. You can see them in chronological order, and some people have said it's very revealing to see how your mind jumps around.

The rise of social media sites has also made things less anonymous than they used to be. Now, you have an account that is linked directly to your name, and everything you do on that site is analyzed. The reason is often for ad traffic, as social media sites want to target you with ads that you'll be more likely to click on, but you also give up information voluntarily. You list your interests, your contact information, your friends and much more.

Even when you're just browsing the web and cookies are being recorded, you're perhaps not as invisible as you think. While the data collected could be numerical and not tied to your actual name, that data can often be reconstructed and traced right back to you.

If you've been accused of internet crimes, it's very important to know that your online activity is not anonymous in most cases. Be sure you understand how it can be used in court and what legal options you have.

Source: NPR, "If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again," accessed Aug. 02, 2017

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