Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that most of the software products I use generate a preview when I paste a link into them. When sharing a microblog or social media post, these often include the whole post and/or image, which seems convenient because your interlocutor can immediately see what you’re talking about without clicking through. How handy! Or is it?

I realized recently that this behavior leaks information back to the originating website. I discovered a particularly egregious form when I copied the text of an article and, when I pasted it, found that the site had pre-pended an offensive warning about sharing the article with a link up top — probably as a tripwire so they could collect information about people doing exactly that.

I had noticed that this was already a risk if you didn’t carefully edit the URL BEFORE pasting, to remove session information that often appears after the question mark in a URL. Otherwise, it follows the link before you can edit.

But I think now I’m just going to turn this behavior off. If I can.

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