Widgets, Plugs-In, and Privacy – Oh My!

Widgets, Plugs-In, and Privacy
(Photo by Josh Hallett)

No doubt you’re aware that many websites have tracking tools installed that allow the website you’re visiting to identify you (what browser you’re using, your IP address, language, mobile device used, etc.). And you’ve likely even installed some analytic software (such as the free Google Analytics) to likewise give you information about your visitors. But who’s gaining from this (inexpensive) technology?

Did you know that some of the widgets and plugins you might be using may also be sharing information about your website to a 3rd party, without your knowledge? I noticed this when I installed Privacy Badger (a free browser add-on that identifies who’s tracking you and allows you to turn on/off various tracking on a site-by-site basis). When I visited my own site, I noticed that there was a tracker that I didn’t recognize. After a bit of digging, I realized it came from a free plug-in that I installed and that further research confirmed that the company was offering the plug-in for free because it was collecting data about websites, and selling that information to a 3rd party. I removed the plug-in, because I believe that such business information is mine to own, and for me to distribute as I see fit (and profit from).

(A reminder: by depending on another site, you’re unnecessarily slowing down your own website’s loading time. A slow load time not only affects viewers but also web feeds, and website search engines.)

So, even if you’re not privacy-paranoid, don’t give away some of your key business metrics. You’ve worked hard for all your success.

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