The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Some musings about some spooky actions from Google and Facebook

Periodically, I will go through my Gmail account just to see what has accumulated since the last time I checked. Usually it's just responding to emails saying stuff like “no, this is not the Sean Conner that lives in Indiana” or “I regret to inform you that I will not be attending your wedding” or even “I've changed my mind about buying the Jaguar and no, I'm not sorry about wasting your time.” But today I received an email from Google titled “Your March Search performance for” and I'm like What?

I check, and yes ideed, it's a search performance report for my blog from Google. I don't use Google Analytics so I was left wondering just how Google associated my gmail account to my website. I know Google does a lot of tracking even sans Google Analytics, but they must have really stepped up their game in recent times to get around that lack.

But no, it appears that some time ago I must have set up my Google Search Console and I forgot about it. Fortunately, that moves the whole issue from “pants staining scary” to just “very spooky.” Poking around the site, I was amused to find that the three most popular pages of my blog are:

Even more amusing is the search query that leads to the top result—“⅚ cup equals how many cups”. What? … I … the answer is right there! I can't even fathom the thought process that even thought of that question.


And speaking of “spooky web-based spying” I just realized that Facebook is adding a fbclid parameter to outgoing links. I noticed this the other day, and yes, it even shows up in my logs. I would have written about that, but it seems Facebook started doing this over a year and a half ago, so I'm very late to the game. But it still leaves one question unanswered—would such an action drag otherwise innocent web sites into GDPR non-compliance? It does appear to be a unique identifier and Facebook is spamming all across webservers. Or does Facebook somehow know a European website from a non-European website and avoid sending the fbclid to European websites? I'm just wondering …

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