Long gone are the days of Internet anonymity. Big Web companies know all about you, says a study commissioned by the New York Times. The Internet giants track users’ behavior across sites, gathering details on a typical person several hundred times a month. That information lets them target content and—most lucratively—advertising, leaving traditional media companies in the dust.
Every month, Yahoo has 811 opportunities to collect information on its average visitor, plus about 1,700 chances on partner sites. MySpace and AOL ranked close behind Yahoo in their potential data collection. In response to privacy concerns, the big companies say they often refrain from linking data directly to visitors’ user names or even computer addresses.