Ghostery: See the Hidden Web
Ghostery is a tool that will inspect the content of the loaded pages on your browser in order to identify and recognize the hidden tracking bugs and beacons that you might not identify at first sight.
They reference themselves as a company that wants to bring trust to online advertizing.
Ghostery loads as a plug-in for your browser, which you may configure with various options going from:
- Auto-blocking the trackers (currently an experimental feature)
- Send statistical updates on the identified beacons
Ghostery will also allow you to see the associated script with the alert that has been displayed.
The detailed profile will display information about the company, other sites that use the same tracker but more importantly the appropriate contacts for privacy inquiries.
For each of the displayed alerts, you will then have the ability to selectively allow or block the tracker to be loaded, and track your activities
In contrast with the major ad-blocking software that mainly focus on visible ads (popups and banners), Ghostery will target any type of tracker that would help online marketing companies build a profile based on your behavioral and browsing profile.
Ghostery will also provide an opt-in option called GhostRank that allows you to send anonymous data to Evidon (the company behind Ghostery) in order to help build the beacons database. The data sent is mainly statistical information such as:
- Bugs identified by Ghostery
- Bugs blocked by Ghostery
- Number of times the bug has been identified
- Domains identified as serving bugs
- Advertisements served at particular domains, including companies associated with each ad
Ghostery is, overall, a really nice product. The impact on page loading is minimal and most analysis happens in the background. It currently supports Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.