Your Digital Fingerprint, Footprint, and Online Behavior

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This article is a continuation of the article How randomization (and obfuscation) hides your digital fingerprint better than a VPN alone.

Previously, we talked about how we as human beings are habitual creatures, prone to behavior that is easily identifiable. For a more in depth article on this specific concept, see the page Anonymity Sets. This is the part where you should watch the documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix as they cover this topic much better than anyone else.

This includes is the way you write (stylometry)[1], the way you behave[2]. The way you click. The way you browse. The fonts you use on your browser[3]. Fingerprinting is being used to guess who someone is by the way that user is behaving. You might be using specific pedantic words or making specific spelling mistakes that could give you away using a simple Google search for similar features because you typed comparably on some Reddit post 5 years ago using a not so anonymous Reddit account[4]. The words you type in a search engine alone can be used against you as the authorities now have warrants to find users who used specific keywords in search engines[5].

Social Media platforms such as Facebook/Google can go a step further and can register your behavior in the browser itself. For instance, they can register everything you type even if you do not send it / save it. Think of when you draft an e-mail in Gmail. It is saved automatically as you type. They can register your clicks and cursor movements as well.

All they need to achieve this in most cases is Javascript enabled in your browser (which is the case in most Browsers including Tor Browser by default). Even with Javascript disabled, there are still ways to fingerprint you[6].

Although these techniques are commonly employed for marketing and advertising, they can also be utilized as a means of identifying users through their unique behavior, which could potentially compromise their anonymity over time.


  4., On the Feasibility of Internet-Scale Author Identification
  5. Forbes, Exclusive: Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Searched A Sexual Assault Victim’s Name, Address And Telephone Number
  6. FingerprintJS, Demo: Disabling JavaScript Won’t Save You from Fingerprinting