Summary: Like millions of other websites, we use Facebook and Google Analytics to help us make our websites better. If you don’t want to share your browsing activities on mySociety’s sites with these companies, please install opt-out browser plugins.
More Detail – Last updated 4/7/2012
We use Google Analytics in our websites because it helps us understand how the sites are being used, and thus gives us information to help us improve them. We use Facebook on some of our sites to make it quicker and easier to login to the site, and easy and quicker to share information with your friends.
These tools are very common and used by millions of other sites, but they do have privacy implications, and as a charity concerned with socially positive uses of the internet, we think it’s important to explain them in full.
We use Facebook’s ‘Like’ button, and Google Analytics, on our sites. When you visit sites that use these tools, you’re potentially telling Facebook and Google that you visited, as well as some information about how your web browser is configured. Nothing more that that – we don’t give out personal information like your email address, home address or private mail.
If you’re unhappy with the idea of sharing the fact you visited our sites (and any other sites) with these companies, it’s quite easy to stop it. It just requires you to make some changes to your browser.
Here are some links to tools that can block these services:
And here are some links to more explanations:
Even More Detail:
However, in the modern world, more often than not users’ privacy is put most at risk not from hacking or data theft, but by people inadvertently giving data about themselves away as they surf around the internet.
One of the most common ways in which this happens is that people visit Website A without realising that by visiting it they are telling Website B which pages on Website A they have visited, as well as information about the set up of the web browser being used. The reason this happens is that the people who run Website A add elements to their webpages, such as adverts, which are run by Website B.
When a user visits Website A, their browser loads content both from Website A and from Website B. The side effect is that Website B knows that you visited Website A. Normally this is not a problem at all, but if Website A is a website about a private medical condition, or contains help with filing for a divorce, or advice on how to come out to your parents, then you might not be happy that Website B gets to know about your surfing activities.
mySociety is starting to make greater use of tools like Google Analytics, and Facebook’s ‘Like’ buttons, on our sites. These represent different kinds of Website B. We believe that adding elements supplied by these companies to our sites help us to help our users. However, because we have a wider public service remit we want our users to be aware that this means that these companies do get to know that you visited our websites. And not just our websites, of course, but the millions of other sites that contain elements supplied by these groups.
Many if not most people simply won’t care about the fact that their information is being sent to third parties. But some people will, and we consider that it is our duty to explain what is happening, and to link to sources that will explain what you can do to protect yourself further.
Lastly, if you are looking specifically to block external cookies that mySociety uses, please be aware that as of today Facebook and Google Analytics are all we use – we have no advertising on our sites.
Google’s Official Statement about Analytics Data