Ghostery, a free add-on for the Firefox Web browser, searches
Web sites you visit for Web bugs capable of quietly tracking your
visits and alerts you to their presence.
Web bugs, described by Ghostery as “hidden scripts that track
your behavior and are used by the sites you visit to understand
their own audience,” are normally hidden from view within the code
on any given page. When the add-on finds one, it displays a small
pop-up in the upper right naming each one it found.
An afternoon of casual browsing is all it takes for Ghostery to
show its stuff. In my surfing, I saw bugs from Google Analytics,
DoubleClick and DiggThis listed. You can also tell Ghostery to
display a count of the number of web bugs round next to its icon in
the lower-right of the browser window.
If you’re at all interested in knowing how you’re tracked on the
Web, then you’ll like this little sleuth. You can configure how
long the pop-up displays, and whether it shows up at all. You can
also choose to send anonymous statistics about the web bugs you
find for use in a GhostRank, which the add-on’s creator says will
be used to create a census of web bugs across the Internet and
won’t include any personal information. The feature is off by
default, but I’d be interested in seeing those collected
statistics, so I enabled it.
While Ghostery does a nice job of telling you what’s on a page,
it doesn’t include an option to block the bugs. For that you might
want to try the Adblock
Plus Firefox add-on.
Note: This link takes you to Mozilla.org, where you can
automatically install the file into your Firefox browser.