2 Firefox Addons To Show You The Invisible Web

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invisible webWe at MakeUseOf cover a lot of browsing privacy tips and tools. Here are a few useful addons for privacy and security as well as essential steps to regain your privacy in Google Chrome and some uses for browsing in privacy mode (that isn’t porn). This post is another addition to your privacy and security arsenal. The two addons below help you identify which sites are tracking your behavior and how.

Even if you don’t care much about who keeps track of your browsing activity, playing with these two addons will help you understand the Internet much better by showing you the “invisible web”.

Ghostery: See (& Block) Trackers In Real Time

Ghostery is a very useful and well-established privacy tool that has a huge database of trackers they can identify (over 500 companies).

Ghostery is your window into the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior.

Before using this addon, there are two very important things you should know about it:

  • Besides identifying the trackers, it can help you block any or all of them (to protect your privacy)
  • There’s a built-in system inside that sends anonymous statistical information about the trackers and ads you come across while browsing. It is called GhostRank and it does not make use of browser cookies or flash cookies and stores no unique information about you (not even an IP address). However, if you don’t want to send that information to Ghostery, you can disable that tracking.

Ghostery shows an alert bubble whenever you land on any page that shows the list of behavioral data providers, web publishers, ad networks, and other companies which are interested in your activity.

invisible web

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Each of the trackers found has a separate profile page containing the important background information on the company. You can access that information from the Addons Bar icon (that also shows how many trackers the tool has identified).

the invisible web

From the same menu, you can block any tracker as well.

Besides that, you can control the global performance and blocking:

  • Scan and block all images, iframes and embed and object tags served off the matched tracker domain
  • Look for and prevent redirection from known trackers
  • Block any scripts, pixels and iframes that are set to track your behavior
  • Block any cookies from the tracking companies in the gallery

2. Collusion: Visualize The Invisible Web

Collusion is another must-have privacy addon that visualizes who is tracking you and across which sites you have visited. It identifies cookies of the web’s most popular tracking companies and detects these cookies across many websites you are visiting.

Just have the addon installed and continue browsing the web as you used to. Then, after you have some browsing history, open this link in a new tab to see the impressive trackers’ visualization:

  • Red dots are sites considered as confirmed trackers by Privacy Choice
  • Sites are connected if they have been using the same tracking cookies while you were browsing:

the invisible web

Hover over any dot to see which cookies the site is using and which sites it is connected with:

invisible web

I am sure there are many more useful tools available to find out who is tracking you online. Please share your thoughts about them in the comments!

Image Credit: DonkeyHotey

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