By now you’re probably aware that your activity on the web is being tracked. But what exactly are web trackers? What are the most common web trackers? And most importantly, what can you do to stop them?
We all love the internet. We enjoy the information it contains, the entertainment it offers, and the convenience it provides. But, it’s important to remember that like most things in life, we have to enjoy the internet responsibly. Otherwise, we might not be able to enjoy it at all.
Because, despite all the benefits that come with it, the internet can be a dangerous place. And it’s particularly dangerous when it comes to our personal privacy. Unfortunately, we’re being tracked constantly as we browse the web. And oftentimes, the most popular sites are the worst privacy offenders.
And want to know the worst part? It’s incredibly easy to not even be aware of how or when you’re being monitored. Most sites try to be very subtle in the ways they track you. That way, you’re less likely to realize that they’re monitoring you, and even less likely to try to stop it.
Let’s face it, all of us have quickly clicked accept on a “cookies” or “terms of service” pop-up so that we could move on to a page’s content. And though you may not have realized it at the time, by accepting that pop-up, you agreed to let that site monitor your activity and store your data.
The unfortunate truth is that if you’re not proactive in protecting you and your family on the web, then your personal information will be exposed. Each site that you visit will use web trackers to gather information on you, whether for marketing purposes or other ulterior motives. So, let’s explore precisely what web trackers are. That way, you can better understand how to limit their impact!
What are Web Trackers?
Web trackers are scripts which sites use to gather data points from their visitors. To put it simply, companies seek to obtain as much information as they can about you so that they can advertise to you as precisely as possible. Because the more they know about you, the more they can tailor the ads which they hope to show you. And the more tailored the ad, the more likely you are to purchase the product!
Sure, you may enjoy seeing ads which are relevant to you. But do you want companies to store sensitive information such as your name, email, phone number, and even Social Security Number? Probably not. Unfortunately, that’s oftentimes what you’re agreeing to when you neglect to disable web trackers.
Thankfully, there are services which exist to protect your privacy while you browse the web. Below we’ll learn about three of the most common types of web trackers. And then we’ll explore how you can protect against them!
Likely the most well-known form of web tracker, internet cookies are designed to help websites keep track of their visitors’ activity. They can help you login to sites faster and keep track of things like online shopping carts. A site’s functional cookies are necessary for the site to work the way it was intended. However, by accepting a site’s cookies, you may be agreeing to let them track more than you think. There are various other types of cookies which focus more on obtaining your personal information and less on functionality. You can learn more about the different types of cookies here.
Another commonplace web tracker is known as browser fingerprinting. Just like on your fingers, your computer has a unique, traceable print. Websites can gather all sorts of information from your browser fingerprint and track it in order to get a precise idea of your online behavior. Sites use this behavioral tracking to curate advertisements for their visitors. Learn more about browser fingerprinting here.
Cross-site trackers are one of the eeriest types of web trackers. If you unknowingly give companies permission to use them, they can collect information about you and send them to sites you’re totally unaware of! These types of trackers are the reason why it seems like certain ads are following you around as you surf the web. Creepy right? You can learn more about what cross-site trackers do here.
How to Stop Web Trackers
Now that we’ve covered some of the most common web trackers, you might be wondering, what can I do to stop them? After all, very few of us want our sensitive information stored by every site we visit. And we certainly don’t want that information shared with unknown sites!
Admittedly, some sites do require functional cookies in order for them to operate properly. But that doesn’t mean you need to let other trackers stalk you across the web.
Thankfully, there is a way to greatly reduce your exposure to unwanted trackers and in turn, improve your online privacy. And with very little effort on your part! That way is Privacy Bee. With their powerful (and free) browser extension, Privacy Bee helps you take control of your data and curate your online experience. Rather than automatically agreeing to each site’s cookie requests, Privacy Bee only allows trackers from companies you’ve chosen to trust. You can customize your privacy preferences for each site you visit, essentially placing a protective shield between you and the unknown parts of the internet. And the coolest part is that it’s completely free to sign up! Check out their 100% free privacy evaluation to get started on protecting you and your loved ones from the dangers of the internet.