Why you see online ads for stuff you buy in the real world

Olde Hornet

Well-Known Member
Why you see online ads for stuff you buy in the real world


Facebook isn’t following you around the mall, but the stores might be.

Here’s what you should know before you download a store’s app or log on to the free wifi offered at the mall.
What you’re really opting in to when you use free wifi and stores’ mobile apps

These days, many retailers offer free in-store wifi and shopping apps. Free wifi can be a convenient way to access the internet without using your cell phone’s data; depending on your carrier and plan, you may be preserving a precious resource.

And mobile apps often offer users exclusive deals on a business’ products or allow them to order items before they set foot in a store. But you might not be aware of what you might be giving away when you take advantage of these services: by using them, you have also opted into what’s called “active tracking.”

You usually can only access in-store wifi through a “captive portal,” which is a page that pops up when you first try to connect. Usually, it asks you to submit personal information, like an email address, and then to agree to terms and conditions before letting you access the internet.

The thing is, when you log into wifi through a business’s captive portal, you aren’t just giving the business whatever personal information you submitted at the portal page. You’re also attaching that information to a set of data the store collects from you, and you’re granting the store permission to use that data in ways you may not realize. (And if you used a social media profile like Facebook to log into the service, you may have given the business everything from your full name to your employer.)