Here’s Looking at You

We all know that our web browsing is closely watched by people who gather data about our browsing habits and choices. We accept this as part of internet reality. But do we know who is watching? How many snoops study us as we go about our business? As a rule, we don’t know. But I have recently found a tool that answers those questions. It’s a browser extension called Ghostery.

Once you have Ghostery installed, you see a popup window appear each time you navigate to a new page. The window shows a list of every tracker that is watching you on that page. The window closes after a few seconds, but an icon remains in the upper right corner of your browser window showing the number of trackers. Clicking the icon opens the window again. From this window, you can block any tracker by clicking a button next to the name. You can also pause blocking, or whitelist a site.

The most astonishing fact I’ve learned by using Ghostery is how many trackers are watching me and how much this varies from site to site. There are two tracking my blog page here: Gravatar and WordPress stats. On the other hand, every time I visit Tom’s Hardware, 25 trackers watch me. Weather.com is almost as bad with 19 trackers.

At the moment, Ghostery claims to have over 1,900 trackers in their database and I imagine that number will grow.

I haven’t blocked any trackers yet, but I probably will after reviewing the list and finding our more about each tracker. Even if I don’t end up blocking any trackers, I feel that I’ve gained a lot of ground just knowing exactly who is following me around.

-= G =-

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