The Hustle

Now you can find out which websites are tracking you

A new tool called Blacklight airs all the dirty ad-tech laundry.


September 25, 2020

Next time you type your skin rash symptoms into WebMD, brace yourself for a barrage of ointment ads.

According to Blacklight, a new tool from the nonprofit tech site The Markup, dozens of marketing companies track your WebMD visits.

And don’t think health websites are alone here: Blacklight lets you see exactly what info all sorts of websites  have on you.

How does it actually work?

You have to go to the tool’s homepage and enter a link.

The system then reads the page for “trackers.” That means info about you, your keystrokes, and your searches that advertisers and other companies are compiling.

Should I be worried about this?

A lot of what Blacklight reveals is obvious. As Recode points out, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that news sites have a couple dozen ad companies tracking you.

There are definite shades of gray, though. Breitbart, for instance, uses a tool called “canvas fingerprinting” that keeps tabs even if you turn off your cookies. Airbnb’s website does the same.

And then there are the bizarre cases: Even government COVID-19 informational pages apparently forward your info on to ad-tech companies.

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