How does a website know where I’ve clicked from?

Lewes in Deleware January 15, 2012

I was startled today to see a site welcome me with a greeting that contained the name of the website I’d just been on. How did it know that? And how can I prevent sites from knowing where I’ve surfed? Worse, a gizmo on the site showed each visitor when they arrived, along with the site they had just been on.

  1. James Bruce
    January 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

    In short: this is a basic built-in feature of HTTP and the entire internet. It helps people to know where their site is being linked from, which are sending the most traffic, what they searched for to get there etc. 

    You can stop it with various browser privacy tools, but you'll likely break a large part of the internet too. 

    Are you really that bothered by it? It won't usually reveal anythign actually about *you*, but just the site you visited from. 

    PS; if you're signed into a google account, pretty much evertyhing you ever search for on Google is recorded too, as well as all the sites you visit. Not to worry you or anything. 

  2. Anonymous
    January 15, 2012 at 9:24 am

    One thing is sure traffics are monitored on the internet so difficult to say i am not online.

  3. Chris Hoffman
    January 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

    It's simple; your web browser tells the website where you're coming from. It's called the HTTP referrer header:

    There are some extensions that can override this, but they may cause problems.

    Here's one for Firefox:

    And one for Chrome:

    January 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Hello, this can be found by different means.  It could be because of cookies, history, etc.

    It could also be because of sites have tools like google analytics or similar tools for tracking visits, etc.

    You can prevent some of it by installing add-ons or by changing a few settings in your browser. 

    If you use chrome you can avoid it somehow by opening a new tab in incognito mode.

    -- open chrome
    -- click on wrench icon on top right corner
    -- click on new incognito window

    If you do not want to use incognito mode, you could try disable tracking in your browser:

    -- click on wrench
    -- click on Under the Bonnet
    -- click on Content Settings
    -- scroll down to Location
    -- click on Do not allow any site to track my physical location

    Or, you could use and extension such as Ghostery:

    -- click on tools
    -- click on options
    -- click on Privacy tab
    -- make sure to checkmark Tell websites I don't want to be tracked
    -- Under History header, make sure to checkmark Always use private browsing mode
    -- click on ok

    You can also use the ghostery Add-on in firefox:

    -- click on tools
    -- internet options
    -- click on Privacy Tab
    -- Under Location, make sure to checkmark Never allow websites to request your physical location
    -- also click on Clear sites button
    -- click on apply and then ok

    You could also use proxie software.  I am sure other people will suggest more options for you.