Most of us know that web firms track our interests and affiliations by following our online activity. But at least one firm, RapLeaf, follows the digital trail a step further, linking people's virtual behavior to the real world by collecting specific names and email address and selling them to advertising companies, finds the Wall Street Journal. Not surprisingly, political campaigns and advertisers are keen to exploit the service.
The company insists it doesn't sell identifying information—a claim the Journal's investigation challenges. For instance, reporters found the company transmitted one woman's Facebook ID number to at least 12 companies. "It is like a watchdog is watching me, and it is not good," she tells the paper. (Click here to read about MySpace's leak of user data.)