Block Trackers and Pixels with Ghostery Plugin

Protected your online privacy!

Online advertising is a huge industry, and it now many websites will stop at nothing to gather as much information on you as possible. One of the most popular ways users prevent this is to use AdBlockers to hide visible ads, but like a cat and mouse game, advertisers are learning quickly. New hidden from view methods can track your movement across the web, such as trackers, pixels, and beacons. Other names include tracking pixel, pixel tag, 1x1 gif, or clear gif is basically a tiny "image", or javascript script, that's sole purpose is to find information about you. Often times, advertisers will use these pixels to determine where a web surfer originated. These can be found on websites, but are also found in emails (which is why many clients now give you the option not to download images).

So how can you stop pixels from tracking your movements on the web? I highly recommend Ghostery. It is a FREE browser plugin that by default automatically blocks all trackers and pixels. It is available for Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, and even iOS. Part of the service is it shows the tracker's company, and allows you to disable/enable blocking of any pixel or tracker.

As of September 16, 2013, Ghostery blocked the this many trackers from the homepage of the following websites:

  1. CNN.com - blocked 11 trackers!
  2. Yahoo.com - blocked 5 trackers!
  3. AllRecipes.com - blocked 7 trackers!
  4. Wikipedia.org - blocked 0 trackers!

In CNN.com's case, your browsing behavior is headed to 11 different companies, who in turn can sell your information to other related companies! But, with Ghostery, this problem is automatically solved.

However, it isn't all positive. Everyone has a different idea of what tracker is considered "bad". For example, Like buttons from Facebook are considered trackers. Everytime you're logged into Facebook and you come across a website with a Like button, you are being tracked by Facebook. Therefore, Ghostery will block the button, which prevents you from "Liking" the website if you're a Facebook user. Luckily, you can "whitelist" Facebook trackers so they always display, or enable one time a Facebook tracker for only the current page. In any event, there is a very easy workaround. This same problem may occur with other online services such as Disqus, Google+, etc...

Important to know, if you don't uncheck GhostRank, Ghostery will annoymously collect your information and sell it back to advertisers. I suggest avoid using the GhostRank feature, something you need to manually uncheck.

In general, I everyone should use Ghostery to block trackers and pixels. It's a very easy set it and forget it way to protect your online privacy.

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