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People shocked after finding out what clicking ‘I am not a robot’ actually does

People shocked after finding out what clicking ‘I am not a robot’ actually does

There's a much more detailed reason than you might expect.

Coming across an 'I'm not a robot' checkbox is almost as common as seeing someone post a selfie on Instagram.

It's something most of us press every day, without giving it any thought.

But have you ever stopped to wonder what actually happens when you click that little box?

Turns out it's more clever and complicated than you might think.

How does it work you ask? Well - It's all part of a system known as CAPTCHA, which stands for 'Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart'.

The system has one main purpose: distinguishing humans from potentially harmful automated bots on the internet.

Soima Anastasiia/Getty
Soima Anastasiia/Getty

But, when delving into the actual process, there's a lot more going on and it's freaking people out.

As revealed by Sandi Toksvig on the BBC's QI, clicking that checkbox initiates a process that scrutinizes your behavior before the click. This means the CAPTCHA system is analyzing your digital footprint to decide if your actions align with what is expected of a human.

That's right, it's looking at your browsing history to decide if you're a real person or not.

So it's not just about ticking a box - it's related to how you behaved in the moments leading up to that action.

"So, to be honest, I can’t tell you all the details because they keep it secret because they don’t want people trying to cheat the test, but broadly speaking, you tick the box and it prompts the website to check your browsing history,” Toksvig said.

10'000 Hours/Getty
10'000 Hours/Getty

"So let us say, for example, before you tick the box you watched a couple of cat videos and you liked a tweet about Greta Thunberg, you checked your Gmail account before you got down to work – all of that makes them think that you must be a human."

But the analysis doesn't end there.

The systems also apparently examine the way you move your mouse towards the checkbox. Everything down to the trajectory, speed, and even the hesitations in your movement are all said to be analyized to determine if you're a human.

If that isn't enough to convince CAPTCHA, then it records to a secondary test.

This is where those annoying image recognition tasks, that almost everyone will have encountered, come into play.

Alexey Bezrodny/Getty
Alexey Bezrodny/Getty

Just another step to ensure your authenticity and that you’re not some evil bot planning internet domination or something like that.

While this might seem a bit far-fetched and somewhat intrusive, it’s worth remembering that the system has been designed to protect websites and services from automated attacks and spam. And it does a pretty good job.

A clip of this being explained has recently caught some attention on social media, and some viewers were left freaked out.

Someone said it 'feels like an invasion of privacy' and another commented that they 'don't want to believe this'.

Maybe it's best to not think about it too much. That feels like the human thing to do at least.

Featured Image Credit: Tara Moore / StudioGraphic / Getty