Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Less trackable sharing


There’s been a bit of a h00-hah on that there internets about the use of JavaScript beacons and third-party cookies on web pages which can be used to track users across sites. Theoretically this means that sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google and various third-party advertisers know many of the sites you visit and how long you spend on them. The reality may not be quite that Orwellian but some people are understandably concerned about companies storing data about them.

This is especially true with sites like Facebook, where most people tend to be logged into all of the time. Again, theoretically, every time you load up a page with a Facebook ‘Like’ button that is live-linked to using JavaScript, Facebook knows you’ve visited that page, regardless of whether you ‘like’ it or not, and it can use this data to target its advertising on to be more tailored to you.

I’m not going to tell you whether this is bad or not, that’s your judgement to make. You may already block third-party cookies and have an ad blocker, in which case all of this advice is probably not massively relevant to you.

What I am going to tell you is that on the site, I have removed most of the live JavaScript sharing buttons from here, and replaced them with static buttons which are served from this site. You can still click on them to share posts on Facebook, tweet them, digg them or submit them to Reddit, but unless you actively want to, you won’t be sharing data. The exception is the Google +1 button – I’m using the Jetpack plugin for WordPress and it insists on using a live button.

The side effects of this are twofold, one bad and one good. The ‘bad’ news is that you won’t see how many other people have shared the post, although generally very few of the posts I make are shared anyway. The good news is that by not pulling in lots of random bits of JavaScript from everywhere, pages should load a bit quicker from now on.

Note that I still use Google AdSense and Stats, which may have the ability to track you. If this concerns you, I’ll be posting about what you can do tomorrow…

One Comment

  1. One of the reasons I went back to Firefox instead of Chrome was the CookieCuller extension which nukes all cookies at browser shutdown with the exception of those I’ve whitelisted. Not a big fan of tracking 😉