It seems that publishers are getting sued or threatened for possibly sharing video watching information - information that an individual has watched a video, before this individual has explicitly decided to share that information. Sharing this without the watcher's consent would be illegal.

How can I tell if video websites (like nbcsports.com/videos, discovery.com or Huffington Post) with sharing buttons/widgets are sharing what video I'm watching, before I make a conscious effort to share that information with others?

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    haha, very funny... yes, every social media site around exist for the sole reason of knowing what you read/view/watch, when, where, how, in what order, shared with who, which ads did you click, etc... – KristoferA Feb 10 '15 at 16:44
  • Do you mean sharing with the public via social media or sharing with partners? – AJAr Feb 10 '15 at 16:44
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    " Sharing this without the watcher's consent would be illegal." Is it? Isn't this how all advertising on the web works? I think you need to define "sharing" better. – Digital Chris Feb 10 '15 at 16:44
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    Introduce yourself as a data mining company and try to buy that info from them. If they sell it to you, then there's your proof. But you don't even have to do that, because any time you use a free service you become the product and your data/usage patterns/statistics are being sold. – user42178 Feb 10 '15 at 20:39
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    The answer is simply, "you can't know". It is expected that they might talk to others, but you have no power to oversee what one company tells another. – schroeder Feb 10 '15 at 20:47

The answer to this is limited by the extents of sharing and personality one might deem significant to their own privacy. Most websites like these are legally obligated to reference a privacy policy linked at the foot of every page to describe what information is collected, how it may be shared and with whom (in terms of the content provider's relationship with potential recipients or consumers of your information), and most of the time there is also a standalone rundown of all personally identifiable information involved, taken by itself for thorough emphasis.

In the case of Facebook, there are explicit controls governing pretty much every aspect of what is shared on your profile. It is uncomfortable, I agree, to find that some website or other application that I accessed via Facebook Connect has broadcasted every detail of my use to all of my contacts (and the public). Take SoundCloud or Spotify, for example. My taste in music sucks, and I never am trying to present that fact to every person I've ever met in my life. Unfortunately, I often forget to use Spotify's time-limited "Private Session" feature and consequently admit to the world that I have listened to the same 12 songs non-stop on repeat for a whole 14-hour session online, then find out about it later when someone likes the activity and passively laughs in my face. That said, I can't legally say that I didn't authorize the embarrassment.

There almost always exist facilities to throttle how much or how little is shared, but those features tend to get as much attention as privacy policies when it comes to most people. Inundated with fair warning and granular control, my lethargy dictates that I will usually just opt to get laughed at. It rarely is the case that information is shared without your consent, although recollection of the consent may be a greater rarity.


As soon as you download something, the site will know, and you have no control over who they share this information with.
However, as @AJAr points out, the privacy policy of the site may affect it - as may the law. However, both the law, and a violation by a site of it's privacy policy, cannot change the damage that has already been done.

You can try to prevent the site from getting knowing who is downloading. You would use private browsing mode, preferably log out of Facebook and Twitter or use these from different devices. And use TOR, or some other tool to hide where you come from.

You can also install tools like AdBlock and Ghostery in your browsers. Ghostery will let you block the Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons, among others. Still, a clever company would see in their logs that these buttons were not loaded when the rest of the web page was.

So, you can't really know what a site will do with your data, but you can often prevent it from getting the data in the first place.

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