Tracker Basics

What You Need to Know About Trackers

Chances are, you visit a huge array of different websites every day. What you might not know is that while you do that, there is an “invisible web” at work: companies are following your activities, collecting your data, and using it in various ways. They do it through technology known as “trackers.”  

There are thousands of such trackers from different companies, and they are active all the time, even though you don’t see their activity and may not be aware of what’s happening. This is true on the websites you visit from desktop or laptop computers, and on mobile apps as well. 

Trackers are neither inherently good nor inherently bad — they are a fact of life and their purposes vary widely, from the helpful to the potentially creepy. Some of them allow you to customize your experience on the websites you frequent and they recognize you when you return to favorite sites. Ever have the experience of visiting a website and then seeing ads for that business show up everywhere you go afterward? That’s because of trackers. And, behind the scenes, trackers build profiles of users’ web behavior, data which is regularly sold to companies you may have never heard of. 

Trackers can cause problems as well. Sites with lots of trackers will load more slowly, which can be frustrating — and cause you to move on instead of waiting. For businesses, this can mean lost customers. 

There can also be security concerns. If a company is not careful and does not follow best practices, your data can fall into the wrong hands or be vulnerable to hackers. The more trackers following you, the more opportunities there are for problems to arise.

Ultimately, though, how you feel about being tracked is a personal issue. Some people are very concerned about privacy and don’t want their data shared with anyone. Others don’t mind it at all. Many people, however, fall into the middle, accepting some of what trackers do and rejecting others. 

To further complicate matters, lots of people feel differently about trackers depending on the situation. Perhaps you don’t mind trackers on your favorite news site; they suggest content that is interesting and ensure the ads are relevant to you. But when your son is watching music videos, you’d prefer the trackers not follow his activities. We use the web for a million different uses, so our attitudes about these technologies is naturally different from case to case. 

That’s where the Ghostery Extension comes in. This free, easy-to-use tool gives you the power to decide who sees your data. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It allows you to see what trackers are following you and decide which ones to allow and which ones to block, or what kinds of companies to allow vs. block.

Deciding to block some — or even all — trackers can speed up your browsing experience and reduce your vulnerability to security breaches. On the other hand, blocking too many (or the wrong kinds) of trackers can reduce the benefits users get from trackers that help make their Internet experience more pleasant and customized. But that’s the point: With Ghostery, it’s your choice, and you can decide what kind of web experience to have. 

When it comes to trackers, the biggest problem is not knowing who is doing what with your data, and having no say over it. You can solve this today with the Ghostery Extension.

Download the Ghostery Extension today.

Visit our blog to learn more about trackers.

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