This Software Let's You Count The Advertisers Tracking Your Web Activity


Photo: gerlos via Flickr

We recently learned about Abine, an online privacy company that offers a similar “do not track” tool as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 feature — only better.Business Insider reported earlier this Summer on the hole in the newly announced “do not track” feature in Microsoft’s release of Internet Explorer 10—it doesn’t stop advertisers from tracking you.

In contrast, Abine not only allows you to notify advertisers that you do not want to be tracked, but it also lets you both see who is tracking you and then block that advertiser from tracking you.

While Abine has a suite of services offered at various costs, the most relevant service is FREE DNT+ (Do Not Track Plus).The tool claims to give control back to the user by providing insight into which social networks, advertising networks, and companies are tracking you. Abine says it has the ability to block more than 600 trackers and companies from following your internet activity. The tool will automatically update its analysis every time you click through to a new page or refresh a current page.

So who’s watching you?

We put Abine to the test. We downloaded the software and tested the DNT+ tool on five popular websites to gauge which sites track us the most: general news sites, retail sites, social media sites, or trade news sites.

1. New York Times: 11 trackers

Social Networks: 1 (Facebook Connect).

Ad Networks: 3 (Dedicated Networks, Nielsen, and AudienceScience).

Companies: 7 (Doubleclick, Google Adsense, Webtrends, Netratings Site Census, Revenue Science, Comscore Beacin, and ChartBeat).

2. Facebook: 154 trackers

While I have zero companies tracking my Facebook activity, the tool says that Facebook is tracking my activity on 154 other sites.

3. LinkedIn: 18 trackers

Social Networks: 0 (though it does point out that LinkedIn is tracking me on 10 others sites).

Ad Networks: 3 (Dedicated Networks, Nielsen, Quantcast).

Companies: 5 (Doubleclick, Google AdWords Conversion, Netratings Site Census, Quantcast, Comscore Beacon).

4. Bloomingdale’s: 6 trackers

Social Networks: 0 (though it does point out that LinkedIn is tracking me on 10 others sites).

Ad Networks: 3 (Domoti).

Companies: 5 (Domoti, Omniture, Marin Software, CoreMetrics, Google Analytics).

5. Adweek: 13 Trackers

Social Networks: 2 (Twitter Badge, Facebook Connect).

Ad Networks: 3 (Quantcast, Dedicated Networks, Bizo).

Companies: 8 (Brightcove, Comscore Beacon, Google Analytics, Quantcast, Doubleclick, ShareThis, Meedbo, ChartBeat).

For most of the networks and companies Abine identifies, the tool recommends that you block them. However, there are a few trackers that they suggest you allow. The reason, according to the company’s website, is that some trackers are identified as core technologies that are critical to how a site runs, such as playing videos or login functionality. In most cases, however, Abine does give you the ability to override the suggestions if you believe they are in fact trackers.

Now, check it out. See who’s tracking you.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.