Hulu collects information through partnerships with social networks and tracking tools such as web beacons. Online publishers, advertisers and ad networks use these tools to follow us around the Internet monitoring: sites visited, links clicked, searches conducted and items bought. All of this information can be combined and shared with other websites and advertisers.
The trend towards sharing information across websites is increasing. An article in Smartmoney noted:
Groupon is only the latest major site to expand its rules about what the site may do with users’ “personal information” — a catch-all phrase that typically includes a user’s birth date, shopping history, location, and whatever else it can grab. Facebook has also gradually relaxed its privacy restrictions; last month, the site added technology that will automatically identify its users in photographs. Also in June, professional networking site LinkedIn gave itself the authority to use members’ recommendations for commercial purposes.