(Safari) Extensions and Ghostery
Ever since Safari supported extensions I’ve made regular trips to the Safari Extensions Gallery. Lots of useful stuff is there which makes my browsing that little bit better. Before I get onto the main topic, DaringFireball with comments is fun to have, if you read John’s website often. It’s amazing how these extensions open up the web in little ways.
That’s in fact what Ghostery does.
It’s an extension that reveals what happens behind your browsing habits; showing you what on the web is tracking you. ‘See the invisible web’ as they say. Ghostery also blocks your activity from those companies accumulating this information. I didn’t think all that junk out there was tracking me as I strolled to my favourite websites and they ALL want a piece of that juicy statistical pie.
As an aside, I didn’t even know Facebook tracked you outside of Facebook.com until I read this article. I should have been wiser to that when their ‘Like’ buttons started appearing everywhere. Not only do they record what you ‘liked’ when clicking the button (which I don’t click anyway) but as I understand it, they know where you go on the web when your browser loads their icons. (This also means all the other like buttons from Google+, Twitter and so forth do the same thing. Ugh).
I felt kind of dum, I’m more savvy than this but these companies are relentless in their pursuit for constant information to then sell on to others for better targeted adverts.
Thankfully Ghostery is really easy to install.
Using Ghostery makes everything a bit more honest and transparent, though slightly depressing because of its scale and because I consider this type of stuff in the same league as malware and viruses but unaccustomed to it because I’m on a Mac and I have to install software to block it.
Ghostery can be found here and here. The number of trackers vary from page to page, so while I remember using Ghostery since Safari allowed extensions, I was aware of the two or three instances where it would catch small things, mostly Google Analytics and DoubleClick. That was until I came across a North American website last week (which I can’t recollect now and isn’t the same one in the screenshot above; that one is even worse and needed screen grabbing) and Ghostery found and blocked 12 instances, 12! Crazy to think there are that many tags to a single page. I did however write down on paper what they were:
- Baynote Observer
- Comscore Beacon
- Facebook Connect
- Facebook Social Plugins
- Google Analytics
- Google Website Optimizer