How to see who’s following you online (and stop them)

How to see who's following you online (and stop them)

Have you ever searched for a product, only to be faced with an advertisement for that same product on a completely independent website? This is an example of how businesses follow you online and targeted advertising in action.

Targeted ads allow ad networks to track your movements online. These networks can then use this information to target you with very specific personalized advertisements.

Are Targeted Ads On The Internet Starting To Be A Little Too Targeted? There are ways to prevent these networks from spying on your every move! Here we show you how to block cross-site tracking on Safari, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

What is cross-site tracking?

Cross-site tracking is all about tracking your movements across multiple websites. These networks can then use this data to create a user profile, which typically includes all of the products you have recently viewed online. This is why you can display a product on a website and then meet an advertisement for the exact same product on a completely independent website.

If you’re starting to feel like you’re being watched, there are steps you can take to reduce cross-site tracking. Depending on your choice of web browser and the websites you visit, these techniques may not be successful in blocking all ad networks. However, they will limit the amount of information that these ad networks have access to, which can only have a positive impact on your online privacy.

See exactly who’s following you with Safari’s privacy report

Apple’s Safari browser gives you the option to block cross-site tracking. It also has a privacy report that shows all the sites and agencies that collect information about you.

Before you block these trackers, you might want to take a look at exactly which sites are following you online and collecting information about you. Armed with this information, you may decide that cross-site tracking isn’t a big deal for your particular browsing habits, or you may decide to avoid certain websites altogether.

To access the Safari privacy report:

1. Launch the Safari web browser.

2. In the toolbar, select “Safari -> Privacy Report”.

3. Select the “Websites” tab. This will display information about all the websites that profile you.

4. Select the “Trackers” tab. This displays a list of all the trackers that are collecting information about you. This includes the companies that created these trackers and the number of times Safari detected these trackers during your browsing sessions.

You can also check how intrusive a particular website is by going to the website in question and then selecting the shield icon that appears next to Safari’s address bar. You can then select “Trackers on this webpage” and Safari will display a list of all active trackers on that particular webpage.

Once you’ve seen all the websites and agencies that follow you, if you want to block these trackers:

1. In the Safari toolbar, select “Safari -> Preferences…”

2. Select the “Confidentiality” tab.

You can prevent cross-site tracking by using Safari's privacy settings.

3. Check the following box: “Prevent cross-site tracking”.

Safari will now prevent these trackers from tracking you on the World Wide Web.

Block trackers with Chrome’s Ghostery extension

When browsing the web, Chrome may send a request to websites not to collect or track your browsing data.

It is important to note that this is a request, so there is no guarantee that every website will honor the request. Frustratingly, Chrome doesn’t provide information about which websites follow you online. However, we still recommend that you enable this feature, as it can help reduce the number of websites that track your movements online:

1. In the top right corner of Chrome, select the three-dot menu icon, then “Settings”.

2. In the left menu, select “Privacy and security”.

Google Chrome may send a do not track request to websites.Google Chrome may send a do not track request to websites.

3. Click on “Cookies and other site data”.

4. Find the “Do Not Track” slider and push it to the “On” position.

Now Chrome will send a “Do Not Track” request to every website you visit. Since this is only a request, you may want to take additional steps to protect your privacy online.

Ghostery is a Chrome extension that lets you view and block online trackers. After installing Ghostery, you can view all active trackers on a particular website:

1. Head to the site in question.

2. Click on the “Extensions” icon in the Chrome toolbar.

You can block online trackers using the Ghostery extension for Google Chrome. You can block online trackers using the Ghostery extension for Google Chrome.

3. Select “Ghostery” to see a list of all trackers detected by this extension.

The Ghostery Chrome extension reveals detailed information about all active trackers on the current site. The Ghostery Chrome extension reveals detailed information about all active trackers on the current site.

4. You can block all of these trackers by selecting the “Detailed” tab, then clicking “Restrict Site”.

Repeat this process for each site you visit and you should notice a significant reduction in targeted ads.

Enable Mozilla Firefox Enhanced Tracking Protection

Firefox has an enhanced Tracking Protection feature that can block all cross-site trackers identified by Disconnect. This feature can also preserve your online privacy by blocking social media trackers, fingerprints, and cryptominers, making it an ideal all-rounder for security-conscious internet users.

Enhanced Tracking Protection should be enabled by default. However, you can check if it is active for your particular Firefox installation by going to any website. Next, click on the little shield icon that appears next to the Firefox address bar – you should see a message confirming that Enhanced Tracking Protection is enabled.

Mozilla Firefox's Enhanced Tracking Protection feature is enabled by default. Mozilla Firefox's Enhanced Tracking Protection feature is enabled by default.

If Enhanced Tracking Protection is not enabled, we recommend that you enable it:

1. In the upper right corner of Firefox, select the three-line icon, then “Preferences”.

2. In the left menu, select “Privacy and security”.

3. You can now select “Standard” or “Strict”. Note that “Strict” may affect the functionality of some websites, so it is recommended to go with “Standard” unless you specifically require a higher level of protection.

Mozilla Firefox users can choose between "Standard" and "Strict" Security. Mozilla Firefox users can choose between "Standard" and "Strict" Security.

Similar to Chrome, Firefox can send a “Do Not Track” request. While you are in the “Privacy & Security” menu, you may want to consider enabling Mozilla’s Do Not Track feature.

Opera: How to block trackers and make exceptions

When you first installed Opera, it gave you the option to block trackers. If you didn’t accept Opera’s offer, you can start blocking trackers now:

1. On the left side of the Opera browser, click the cog icon. This opens the Opera settings.

2. In the menu on the left, select “Basic”.

3. Find the “Block Trackers” slider and push it to the “On” position.

4. Blocking trackers may impact the functionality of some websites. If you start to notice strange behavior on a particular website, you can add that site to your “Exceptions” list. By allowing this site to use trackers, you should be able to resolve any issues you encounter.

To make an exception for one or more websites:

1. Launch Opera settings by clicking on the small cog icon.

2. Go to “Basic -> Manage exceptions”.

You can add exceptions to Opera's tracker block list. You can add exceptions to Opera's tracker block list.

3. Click “Add”, then type the address of the site on which you want to allow trackers.

Rinse and repeat for all the sites you want to add to your exception list.

Wrap

No one likes to feel watched! Now that you know who is stalking you online, you can proceed to stop them in their actions. You can also use these privacy-focused browsers to protect your privacy.

Related:

Jessica thornsby
Jessica thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she’s not obsessed with all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree and spending way too much time with her house rabbits.

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