You know the drill. You're surfing online and find yourself on a clothing site, a cooking site, a real estate site or any other site that's selling you something.
After a bit, you decide you're done and continue surfing, only to find that ads for the site you left show up everywhere you look. It gets really annoying.
It's worse than advertisers just tracking you online, though. They're building a personality profile that they can sell to other advertisers and third parties. So much for privacy.
The good news is that you can stop them.
Before I get into the steps for stopping them, let me tell you how they're tracking you. In a word: cookies.
No, not the chocolate chip kind. I don't think as many people would mind if that was the case.
Cookies in this context are small files almost every website saves on your computer. The files store your settings and preferences so that you don't have to re-enter the same information over and over. These "first-party" cookies are usually harmless.
However, there are other types of cookies called third-party cookies. These are the ones that spy on you and track you from site to site.
So, for example, if you visit a home decorating blog, the third-party cookie will record your visit. Then you might visit another website and see advertisements related to home decorating.