Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is Ghostery?

Ghostery is a browser extension - which means it's an app you can add to your web browser or mobile phone/tablet - that shows you all the companies that are tracking you when you visit a website. Ghostery lets you learn more about those companies and the kinds of data they collect, and block them from collecting data, if you choose.

Is Ghostery free?

Ghostery is totally free to download and use.

How do you know if a company is tracking me?

We look at the html code on each web page that you visit to see if there are “tags” or “trackers” placed by a company that works with that website. We know enough about the different types of code to know if the company is showing you ads, collecting data about you, or giving you added functionality on the page.

How do you make money?

We rely on Ghostery users who opt-in to participate in a feature called Ghostrank, which sends us anonymous information about the data collection technology they see, and where they see them. We take that information, add our analysis, and sell it to companies to help them audit and manage their relationships with these marketing tools. None of the information we share is about our users nor is it stored in a way that could be used to trace back to our users. Ghostrank is off by default, meaning you can use Ghostery without sharing anything with us if you'd prefer. (But please opt-in. It is how we keep Ghostery free and continue to make it the best tool out there!)

A Ghostery TrackerMap™, which is one of the reports Ghostery Enterprise offers to businesses.

What is Ghostrank, exactly?

If a user turns it on, Ghostrank collects the following information:

  • the tracker identified by Ghostery
  • the page where the tracker was found
  • the protocol of the page where the tracker was found
  • the blocking state of the tracker
  • the domains identified as serving trackers
  • the time it takes for the page and the tracker to load
  • the tracker’s position on the page
  • the browser in which Ghostery has been installed
  • Ghostery version information
  • standard web server log information, such as IP address (we do not store IP addresses) and HTTP headers

You can read a more detailed breakdown on our blog.

How do I know that’s really all you collect?

You can review the source on www.ghostery.com/ghosteries/chrome/ or by unpacking the downloaded extension archive (or browsing to the installed extension's folder). We also have a few open source projects at github.com/ghostery/.

I was using Ghostery and saw something on my site that shouldn’t be there.

That’s not uncommon. Tags from old campaigns and trial relationships can often linger around in page code, and marketing partners can bring other partners along with them. Ghostery Enterprise products are built to help you understand exactly who is appearing on your site.

What is Ghostery Enterprise, exactly?

Ghostery Enterprise is a set of tools that help brands, site owners, and marketing technology companies better understand how they perform, see how they compare to their competitors, and comply with disclosure regulations and industry standards. The goal of Ghostery Enterprise is the same as Ghostery: to make the online marketing industry more transparent and easier to understand.

You can learn more about Ghostery Enterprise at www.ghosteryenterprise.com.

I saw an “AdChoices” icon in an advertisement/on a website with Ghostery’s name on it. What is it?

This is a service from our Ghostery Enterprise division. The service was formerly known as Evidon InForm, and it uses a separate data and technology platform. None of the data from AdChoices is ever connected to the data we collect if you opt-in to the Ghostrank panel (Important: If you do not opt in the the Ghostrank panel, none of that data is used).

The AdChoices icon is a part of the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising, as well as the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance's (EDAA) and the Canadian Digital Advertising Alliance (DAAC) programmes.

Clicking the icon launches a privacy notice with more information about data collection/usage behind the ad/website (Note: Non-US website notices may say “Cookie Consent” instead of “Ad Choices).

Similar to a nutrition label for food, the ad/site notice reveals the companies that are collecting and/or using your data, often to target advertising to you. Additionally, it provides you with the option to opt-out of having your information used for ad targeting and other purposes. Our EU website notice also provides a mechanism for you to give your consent to be tracked, a requirement of the ePrivacy Directive.

Ghostery Enterprise doesn't sell, create, or deliver ads, nor does it collect data that our clients use to target ads to individuals. We do place a cookie on your browser when you make an opt-out choice in order to remember that preference, but that cookie is used only for that purpose. This cookie was formerly from the “info.evidon” domain and now is from the “info.ghosteryenterprise” domain.

Weren’t you owned by a company called Evidon? What happened to them?

Evidon was the business unit and parent company of Ghostery. It’s still around; it’s just been renamed Ghostery, Inc. Since Ghostery is the tool we’ve been using for some time now, we decided that working under one brand name is a more transparent way to operate and makes it easier for our users and clients to understand what we do. And who wouldn’t want to work for a blue Ghost?

FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY

How does Ghostery work?

Ghostery is a browser add-on, which is a piece of software that extends the functionality of a web browser on a computer, a mobile smartphone or a tablet. Ghostery can monitor all of the different web servers that are being called from a particular web page and matches those with a library of data collection tools. If it finds a match, Ghostery adds that company to a list that shows up in a purple box pop-up and in our drop-down menu. If you've configured Ghostery to block communication with one or more of these companies, it interrupts the call from leaving the browser.

This is different than opting-out or blocking cookies because those strategies still allow the browser to communicate with the web server (they just try to alter the communication or the response). When blocking is enabled, Ghostery never allows the communication in the first place.

Does Ghostery work in any browser?

Ghostery is supported in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

Does Ghostery work on mobile devices?

Ghostery is a standalone app for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. We also work inside Firefox on Android phones.

How can I change my settings?

Ghostery's options are available through your browser's preferences, or by clicking on the Ghostery icon in your browser's address bar. Click the gear in the top right corner of the control panel, and then click the button that says “Options”.

If I block something, is it blocked everywhere?

When you block a company, either in Ghostery's options menu or in the drop-down control panel, that company is blocked on any site it encounters. You can use the control panel to fine-tune those options by allowing a company or all tracking activity on a particular site.

Which trackers should I block?

This is totally up to you. Everyone’s privacy preferences on the internet are different. On top of its track-blocking abilities, Ghostery provides detailed profiles of each company in our library. If you are suspicious of a tracker or are unsure as to whether or not you should block it, you can refer to these profiles for more information.

Will Ghostery slow down my browser?

Ghostery starts a scan and decision for several types of page elements, and in some cases, this scan may result in a slight increase in page load times. However, if users choose to block page scripts, our research suggests that, on average, pages load faster.

Why is Ghostery making that noise?

That's not Ghostery. Ghostery doesn't make any noises.

How can I uninstall Ghostery?

Ghostery can be disabled or removed from your browser's extension or add-on settings menu. Ghostery is not installed as a separate program on your computer.

I installed Ghostery, but I can't find it.

When you install Ghostery on any browser, it inserts an icon into your browser's address bar. If you’re having trouble finding it, try adjusting your browser's display settings.

Can I turn off that purple box?

You can. You can configure Ghostery's display options in lots of ways, including hiding us entirely. In Ghostery's options menu, click “Advanced” and choose from any of the options in the “Display Options” section.

Ghostery's configuration wizard starts every time I start my browser.

This is happening because you have an extension installed that’s interfering with your ability to set Ghostery’s options. You can fix it by disabling the other extensions, setting Ghostery’s options, restarting your browser, and then re-enabling them.

Why aren't some of these trackers blocked?

Once you set Ghostery to block a tracker, that doesn't change. However, Ghostery doesn't block new trackers by default, so if we've added something new to our library since you installed Ghostery, it may not be blocked. You can block the specific tracker in the options menu, and you can also configure Ghostery to block anything newly added. In Ghostery's options menu, click “Advanced”and choose “Block new elements by default” in the “Auto Update” section.

Why does Ghostery break (a web page)?

Sometimes web pages are structured in such a way that a third party has to finish doing its job in order for the page to load properly. Some of the companies in our database also double as functional widgets (like video players, social buttons, comment forms, etc). We do our best to replace those functional tools and make sure pages aren't waiting for something that's blocked - but in some cases, the page may not look the way you expect. In those cases, you can pause blocking from our control panel.

Where can I report a problem, ask a question, or make a suggestion?

You can email us at support@ghostery.com, or post on our GetSatisfaction page.

How is Ghostery different from AdBlock Plus, Disconnect, DoNotTrackMe, etc?

Ghostery focuses on transparency, education, and privacy over content blocking. Other than that, the biggest difference is the size of the data collection library. Check out areweprivateyet.com for an open-source comparative study of these tools.