Let There be LIGHTbeam.

Disclaimer: this blog post has a rap at the end. Read at your own discretion.

We live in a time where it’s easier than ever to connect with people from across the world and share information within minutes. But, as with anything else, everything comes with a price. Many of you have been using Internet for as long as you can remember, it’s a part of your life- a blessing that you may not be able to imagine life without. However, this blessing can sometimes be a curse because anyone can access your personal information without your knowledge.

When you’re online, you have one browser open (with atleast 20 tabs, if you’re like me). What you may not realize, is that for each website you visit, there’s multiple third-party tracking websites that notice your every move- all the links you click on to, everything you scroll over, all the information you put in. We call them third-party websites for a reason- they’re complete outsiders without any involvement in the online transaction. They just sit on the boundaries and observe what goes on within.

Though we wish we were in total control of our digital experience, it’s widely known that most of what we see and do on the Internet is hardly private.

That’s where Lightbeam comes in.

Lightbeam is an add-on feature of Mozilla Firefox that allows users to view all the third-party sites that track their every move on line. I tried out Lightbeam for only about 25 minutes, and though I was aware of their presence, was shocked to see just how many third-party sites were active. I visited 18 sites intentionally, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, Aldo, Rudsak, etc., and this gave 126 third-party sites to trace my every move.

Map from using Lightbeam f0r 20 minutes.

126 for 18. That’s an astonishing figure- and it’s very likely not the worst one amongst other users. I was so surprised, and frankly pissed, that so many websites were latched onto my online experience to gather data without my consent.

Even he was pissed when he saw how many third-party websites were tracking him…

So pissed, that I decided to rap about it. Here it is, in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tune…

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I realized, that my Internet ads didn’t come from thin air.

In 2011 when it was initially released
I bet no one had a clue they were on a digital leash
Chillin’ out maxin’ browsin’ the web
Lightbeam’s ‘bout to expose who else is sleeping in your bed

When you first start using Lightbeam, it might be kinda slow
But then you’ll see third-party sites and you’ll go, “WHOA”
I clicked on one little site and I got kinda scared
Lightbeam picked up sites I didn’t even know were there.

One site, two site, three site, four
For every site I went to, there were a million more
I clicked on the map Lightbeam made for me
And half those third-party sites were just random ABC’s

It’s no coincidence, those Aldo ads all over your feed
When you googled “black shoes”, you gave them their lead.
All those spam mails you get on a daily basis,
It’s cause everywhere you go, you’re leavin’ traces

Now, don’t get me wrong, not all tracking is bad
It can be helpful, but sometimes it’s behind our backs.
But wait, this nightmare doesn’t just end there,
Even after you log off, they’re still all up in your hair.

That’s why you gotta turn your cookies off
Don’t give up your privacy at any cost!
Man, I only used Lightbeam for like 25 minutes
And for every site I went to, a million more would visit

Okay, maybe not a million more,
But, c’mon, 126 for 18 is no joke.
25 minutes, that’s all it took,
now a bunch of random sites won’t let me off the hook.

Damn, Lightbeam you really opened my eyes
All my information was being tracked, though I wasn’t surprised
But tell me, how the heck was I supposed to know
For every site I went to, there were a million more?!

So kids, remember the lesson we learned today,
If you’re using the web, you’re leaving a digital trail.

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