Scan Sites for Annoying Data Trackers With Blacklight

Blocking site trackers is easy. Several popular web browsers block ads and trackers by default , and there are many third-party browser apps and add-ons that can fill in the blanks as needed. But have you ever wondered what exactly these useful tools are blocking?

To easily see everything a website is tracking before you visit it, and where the data is transmitted, we highly recommend checking out the Blacklight web tool from TheMarkUp.org. (You can also get this information through third-party software, browser blockers, or specially configured browser settings , but you must visit the site first before they can usually analyze it.)

How to use Blacklight

Here’s how it works: open the Blacklight page , then enter the URL in the “Enter website address” line and click “Scan Site”.

Here’s what the site does in the background (and anonymously):

Blacklight works by visiting each website in a stand-alone browser using custom software created by The Markup. This software monitors which scripts on this website are potentially tracking the user by performing seven different tests, each examining a certain known observation method.

After a few seconds, the tables will display the results. It includes:

  • How many ad trackers are on the site
  • How many third party cookies Blacklight has detected
  • Availability of trackers to bypass cookie blockers.
  • Session Tracking
  • Keylogging
  • Facebook social tracking
  • Google Analytics

Click the arrow next to any of these fields for more information. You can also download the archive of results and view screenshots of the scanned pages by clicking “More” next to the time stamp.

Underneath the crawl results, Blacklight also includes a list of well-known companies that the previously crawled website has shared information with. Click the arrow next to a company name to see more information about their partnerships, including specific domains that collect data. If a website’s privacy policy seems suspicious – or if you’re just curious – run a Blacklight scan and use the See Something Worrying tool at the bottom of the page to report any questionable things.

However, do not rely solely on Blacklight test results to verify website privacy.

The disclaimer at the bottom of the page states: “Blacklight results should not be construed as the final word on potential privacy violations on this website. Rather, they should be seen as an initial automated check that requires further investigation before a final statement can be made. ”

Basically, this tool can give you a good idea of ​​how a website is tracking and transmitting your data, but it might not capture everything. While the scan results are useful and sometimes surprising, it is best to use Blacklight in conjunction with a privacy-focused browser and other tracker blocking apps to keep your personal data private.

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