We all know that our online browsing habits are being tracked. Unless you take steps to prevent it, most websites see where you come from, what you are searching for and what you like. Tap or click here for 8 hidden maps and trackers you need to switch off.
All this data is valuable to sites and services, as they use it to serve targeted advertising. Ever searched for something on Amazon and then seen an ad for a similar product on Facebook? That is targeted advertising at work.
Thankfully, not all websites treat you as a treasure trove of information. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out which sites have the least amount of trackers. But on the other end of the spectrum, the biggest culprits shamefully stuff their sites with hundreds of trackers.
Here’s the backstory
There are plenty of ways for a website to track you. Some might be subtle, like an invisible pixel or cookies, while others access your device’s GPS to locate you on the globe. But who are the biggest offenders?
VPN provider SurfShark launched an investigation to find out, and some of the results are somewhat surprising. Its findings revealed that some of the most commonly-used websites hide up to 100 trackers, all designed to collect as much information on you as possible.
SurfShark analyzed a typical browsing session over the course of a weekend and noted which trackers were activated, who the trackers belonged to and where the information goes once collected.
Here’s the good news. Websites with the least amount of trackers:
- Wikipedia (3)
- TikTok (3)
- Instagram (4)
- XVIDEOS (4)
- Netflix (5)
- Bandcamp (5)
- FB Messenger (5)
- XNXX (6)
- National Parks Service (6)
- GameForge (7)
SurfShark explained: “Wikipedia’s privacy summary notes that ‘that some of these [tracking] technologies do not have the best reputation in town and can be used for less-than-noble purposes’ – and that the company uses automatically-received data to ‘administer the sites, provide greater security, and fight vandalism’.”
The most invasive sites
SurfShark found 143 trackers on the most invasive website, 92 of which are used for advertising purposes. Tracker counts also vary by category, with Men’s & Women’s Lifestyle websites having the most trackers (59) on average than other categories.
The most invasive sites are:
- theChive (143)
- Salon (139)
- NY Daily News (126)
- HGTV (121)
- Crooks and Liars (116)
- Barstool Sports (116)
- LADbible (114)
- Adweek (112)
- Refinery29 (111)
- USA TODAY (104)
How to stop sites from tracking you
If you don’t want websites or services to track you, there are ways to stop them. Here are some suggestions:
- Use a VPN to block your location. When you mask where you are from, in most cases you won’t be served ads that relate to your area. Tap or click here for the only VPN that Kim uses and trusts.
- Switch to a secure browser that has additional privacy features. Browsers like Brave have been developed to block sites from tracking you. Tap or click here for browsers focused on privacy.
- Restrict ad tracking in your browser, or block ads completely. In Google Chrome, click on the menu icon and tap Settings. Next, select Privacy & Security and click Cookies and Other Data. Then slide the toggle next to Send “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic to the right to enable it.