Top 100 websites: How they track your every move online

online tracking

The Web is a dangerous place for privacy. Here, a list of the companies that are tracking your Web activity on the top 100 most-visited websites in the United States.[ref] Digital Trends.[/ref]

In September of 2011, Facebook’s privacy nightmares heated up at Nic Cubrilovic’s blog when he revealed that Facebook was utilizing invasive tracking of both logged in and logged out users.

“…logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application; a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to facebook.comEven if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit.” –Nic Cubrilovic[ref]New Web Order[/ref]

It wasn’t long before Nic’s research findings went viral and Facebook was forced to address the latest (in a long string) of privacy brouhahas.

Sometimes we have no idea of how much tracking is going on out there! I’ve used Disqus [commenting system] but, like Facebook(who once tracked us even when we were logged out), whoa – Disqus is doing the same thing!

It’s no secret: Every move you make on the Web is being tracked, recorded, compiled, and used to sell advertising or otherwise finance the sites that we all know and love. But such activity has come under increasing scrutiny from privacy advocates, and even the U.S. government. Which got me thinking: What are these companies that are doing the tracking? And which websites are they using to gather this information? Using two of the most popular anti-tracking extensions, Ghostery and Do Not Track Plus, I visited each of the top 100 most-visited websites in the U.S., according to Alexa, to dig a bit deeper into this whole tracking debacle.

In total, about 125 different companies or company products are used to track your online activity through the top 100 sites. Many of these are simple advertising networks — but others are particularly nefarious. To get a better sense of what each of these companies are, I reached out to attorney Sarah Downey, a privacy strategist for Abine, which created Do Not Track Plus. Based on her extensive research, here are some of the companies you should be most concerned about.[ref] Digital Trends.[/ref]

Digital Trends constructed a basic list of the top 100 websites, along with the tracking technologies they utilize. The author, Andrew Couts visited the homepage of each website: this is a very basic list, but it does provide a great deal of insight into who the companies are that float just beneath the surface of the Web to watch your every move.[ref] Digital Trends.[/ref]

Read more at Digital Trends.
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