Cats have been a thing on the Internet almost as long as we’ve had the World Wide Web. Cat memes are legion, and social media has made stars of felines like Sockington, Maru, and Lil Bub (who is even having her genome sequenced). There are festivals and art installation raves about cat videos. Jessica Myrick, a professor at Indiana University, set out to quantify the behavioral effect of exposure to all those cat videos, and the results have just been published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior.
It’s 2015—when we feel sick, fear disease, or have questions about our health, we turn first to the internet. According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online. But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.
…WebMD is basically calling up everybody in town and telling them that’s what you’re looking at