My Experience with Lightbeam

In reading this weeks instructions to download Lightbeam and search the web for 20 minutes, I kept my browsing to the basics that I’m used to. For the most part my searches and web activity included Google (obviously), Facebook, my.ryerson, Google Drive, Mail, ConnectRU, and YouTube. Given that the Brit awards had happened the night prior, I did of course have to read a couple of articles about it on sites that were not my usual routine but beyond that my internet activity was routine.

Ed Sheeran at the Brits (source: GIPHY)

It was interesting to see the Lightbeam chart grow and change the more I did on the internet and the specific statistics were definitely surprising. According to the data gathered, I intentionally visited twelve websites, and those twelve visits actually connected to two-hundred and thirty-five third party websites.

Source: GIPHY

My mind was blown. I had connected to almost twenty times more sites than I had intentionally thought.

Being one that’s fairly trusting of and oblivious towards the internet, it had never even occurred to me to consider ALL the places my information goes when I’m innocently browsing until 2 am. I had to read in to what it is that Lightbeam does, because honestly, I had no idea. I didn’t even have Firefox as a browser so…

Source: GIPHY

Learning that Lightbeam was actually created to enable people to examine their interactions with third parties over time and space, and identify where they connect to our online activity, was not something I had never even ever considered as necessary (Lightbeam). It was interesting to find out that even something like visiting my my.ryerson page connected me to twenty-one other websites was extraordinary.

The graph that resulted from my twenty-minutes of browsing (okay so I may have browsed for longer than that, but still) was super interesting. I was able to identify the logos of all the main sites I was aware that I had visited, but to see all the plain white triangles that represented all my third party sites was something very interesting to consider. It was also cool to see that Lightbeam outlines which sites collect cookies from you and links them all with the purple lines.

Check out my graph: