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Mozilla experiment to pollute what advertisers know about you

Mozilla launched Track This today, an experiment to pollute what advertisers know about you by opening a large number of unrelated sites on the Internet.

The basic idea behind Track This is not new: open unrelated websites in your browser of choice to dilute your advertising profile. Some extensions, e.g. AdNauseam, try to trick advertising companies as well.

Advertisers use information about visited webpages, searches, and other interactions to create user profiles that are used for advertising. The more data an advertiser can get their hands on, the more accurate the profile that is created.

Mozilla’s Track This experiment loads 100 different websites in browser tabs to add data to the profile that is unrelated to a user’s interests.

track this mozilla

There are three caveats: first, that Track This works best if no content-blocking tools are used, second, that users who run the experiment will get unrelated advertisement, a man may get advertisement that is targeting women, and vice versa, and third, that the effectiveness depends on the advertising and tracking services that the selected 100 sites use.

The whole thing does not help you if the sites that you visit regularly use different advertising providers.

Mozilla recommends that users make sure that work is saved before they run the Track This experiment. Opening a new browser is not the best of advice considering that advertisement profiles are usually browser-linked as there are only a few methods to create cross-browser profiles.

The experiment should work in all modern browsers.

Track This comes with four profiles that are linked to 100 sites each. The available profiles are Hyperbeast, Filthy Rich, Doomsday, or Influencer. A click on any opens a warning page that reminds you that 100 tabs will be opened in the browser when the button is activated.

The 100 sites are opened in different tabs when you confirm the procedure. You need to close these manually after they have been opened, or may use features such as “close tabs to the right or left” when right-clicking on a tab in the tab bar. Not all browsers support these, but they speed up the tab closing process.

Advertisers should pick up these new sites and add them to the profile. You will start to see new advertisement that is based on the theme of the opened sites going forward.

Mozilla improved Firefox’s Tracking Protection feature recently, and plans to improve it further in the near future.

Closing Words

I’m not too enthusiastic about Mozilla’s Track This project. While it may dilute your advertising profile, it is not addressing the underlying issue of being tracked without consent on the Internet. It is probably only a matter of days before advertisers start to filter out these domains if they notice a large number of them to take the experiment into account.

Now You: What is your take on Take This?

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