How can I prevent targetted ads?

I don’t really mind ads as such. Websites have got to make money and providing ads is only a minor inconvenience for me. If it helps the sites I visit, good luck to them. What does bug me though, is that all the ads I see seem to contain links to sites I have visited, meaning that whoever provides the ads can see (at least some of) my browsing history or some other identification of the sites I’ve been to. I don’t really want to block ads, I don’t want to wipe my cookies after every session but I don’t want targetted ads. What’s the best way to stop this?

I use Disconnect on Firefox. It stops sites from tracking you. Their site is here: Disconnect.

Ghosterydoes something similar, I use it on Chrome but it’s available for other browsers.

I use Do Not Track Plus. It is interesting to see how many places are trying to track you.

Just installed this. It’s blocking five sites via SD.

Can I ask why? I’ve never understood the concern here.

It feeds the paranoia of those that think people are following them.

The latest version of AVG Free edition has a built in tracking cookie blocker that you can turn on and off. And it does well on malware blocking and virus scanning, too, so the cookie blocker is a nice bonus.

CCleaner wipes away the cookies that tracks us. I run it nearly every time that Firefox is closed.

I still get a few targeted ads. Not sure why.

Browser fingerprinting plus server-side cookies. Here is an EFF site that tells you how unique your browser setup is.

One, for starters: I don’t necessarily want everyone who may be looking at my screen to know what else I’ve been looking at (and I don’t mean p0rn). If I’m looking into Caribbean vacations, I don’t necessarily want that showing up when I’m Googling something with a colleague at work. If I’m researching a surprise present for my wife, I don’t want giant ads for that thing to start appearing when we’re looking at something on the web together.

Basically, I have no interest in the web trying to act in a correlated – but unpredictable – way relative to my previous browsing. When I’m done with a train of thought, I’m done with it. Now get off my lawn!

Yeah, I still get occasional ads from when I bought a Bogart hat. :slight_smile:

I don’t use the same web browser for work as I do for personal business. But I could see that, if you used the same browser for both.

This I don’t understand at all.

Anyway, thanks for answering. I’m in a field which (indirectly) benefits from targeting on websites, and frankly I’ve never understood the paranoia around targeting ads. People don’t think it’s weird that Lifetime network shows ads aimed for woman, why is it weird that a website tries to target based on your own hobbies?

Paranoia isn’t the right word, at least not for me. I know my browsing habits are recorded all over the place out there, and that’s part of the game, so whatever. But if I turn on the Lifetime network, I know what I’m getting and I’m in control of that information flow – both the flow to me and the flow to others about what I’m doing – and it follows a clear pattern due to the fact that the “target” is very broad. Internet targeted ads, though, are very targeted (one person, so no “privacy in numbers”), they are random and uncontrollable, and they are more distracting than regular ads. There is also the concept of living in an dynamically formed bubble of targeted information, and I also don’t like that, but that’s an even broader different topic relating to suggested readings and news articles, etc.

On the uncertainty and perceived unnecessary-ness of it, consider this reductio ad absurdum: Imagine that when you go to CVS to buy, say, Pepto-Bismol, then it means that at some random point over the course of the week, a random stranger will come up to you on the street yelling into a megaphone saying “Hey! You with the upset stomach! We’ve got a different drug for you! Do you want to hear about it?! Huh, do you!? Do you?!”

I don’t want that. Very few people actively want to see advertisements. Ads are merely tolerated as long as they are sufficiently passive. Targeted ads are not passive. They catch my attention and say to me, “Psst – Pasta… You’ve been doing research on Widget X and we know it and I want you to look at my Widget X please please…” and I just want to say “GO AWAY, you stranger with the megaphone – besides, I’ve already done more research on Widget X than your silly ad can trump.”

To be sure, I definitely understand why advertisers like targeted ads, and I can believe they are more effective. That doesn’t mean I, on the consumer end, have to enjoy them or even tolerate them.

If you agree that the absurd example above would annoy you, then perhaps you’ll agree that there is a grey area between that and regular ads where the annoyance stops, and the crossover line will vary for different people. I would actually be interested in any reasonably defensible studies that have been done on people’s feelings on targeted ads.

I don’t know what “random” means in this context. How can an ad be both targeted and random?

Yes, but the annoyance there isn’t that he’s selling Pepto-Bismol, but that he’s using a megaphone to yell at you. Right?

But again the annoyance is the megaphone, not the fact that the ad is targeted.

I guess what you’re saying is that targeted ads draw your attention more than untargeted ones, is that right?

If someone yelled at me with a megaphone, yes that would annoy me.

But if there was a billboard on a wall that said, “iPhone” for a Mac user and “Windows Phone 7” for a Windows user, that wouldn’t annoy me any more than a billboard that said anything else.

Your premise here is that targeted ads are somehow “louder” (meaning: attract more attention) than non-targeted ads. From my experience that isn’t true-- in fact the opposite is true, usually the most distracting/annoying ads (like site takeovers, or those double-underlined keywords) are completely untargeted.

I’ll note that, until this thread, I haven’t tried to articulate what annoys me about targeted ads, so apologies if it takes a while to zero in on it myself. A few things indeed stand out for me:

(1) I find them more distracting / mentally interruptive. Yes, there are worse offenders like full browser take-overs, but those annoy me, too, so it’s all fair.
(2) They don’t respect my privacy vis a vis future browsing sessions. This seems straightforward, I think, per earlier posts.
(3) As someone who does not get much utility out of consumerism, they seem completely unnecessary, so it is an affront that ad companies would ignore the above issues and “force” me to put up with them. (“Affront” is a bit of an overly strong word here, but the point holds that I feel forced to put up with the annoyance of (1) and (2), with no way of getting out of it. It’s rude in a category like loud motorcycles driving down my street and rattling my existence. That annoys me, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so it’s just a little thorn in my side that I am forced to live with due to the inconsideration of others. And it is a recursive annoyance, because the inevitability/uncontrollability of it annoys me further.)

I meant that the mental interruption is random/unexpected when it happens.

This example annoys me in the “information bubble” way that I’ve been mostly leaving out. Some additional reading on it, nonetheless, is here: Filter bubble.

Your rationale seems to be that companies are collecting information about my preferences, but I can’t possibly be bothered by that. However, when information is collected, it is stored. When it is stored, it can be accessed. By their software, yes, but also by their employees. I don’t want random strangers to have access to random information about me without my explicit consent. Once a tracking cooking communicates my information to Google, I can never take that information back.

Furthermore, even though my information is being used for innocuous purposes right now*,* that doesn’t mean it always will be. You seem so confident that there’s no problem with all the information-gathering that’s currently occurring on the internet. And hey, you’re probably right. But you can’t say what’s going to happen to this information tomorrow, or next year, or in the year 2100. I would rather hang onto what’s mine… because once it’s out there, I can never get it back.

Besides, companies should have to pay for market research. And I don’t fucking mean paying Google or Facebook for information on my buying preferences, demographic, and zip code. I mean paying *me *for it. This allows me to negotiate. Or even to say no, I don’t think the trade-off is worth any amount of money.

Make sense?

duckduckgo dot com is a search engine, somewhat resembling google, that promises not to do any sort of tracking.

Here are two of their illustrated essays, describing the objections to tracking and filter bubble.

The gist is, when a lot of your personal information gets spread around, in fragmented bits and pieces, there is a real risk that somebody, somewhere, will collect and collate enough, to be able to find out some very private things about YOU that you might not like spread around.

If you browse pr0n at home, there’s a chance that your employer (or your wife) could discover that fact.

If you search for information about some medical condition (as in the linked essay above), there’s a chance your health insurer could discover that fact, and make some unwarranted assumptions.

I’d like to point out that one point of tracking is to stop showing people an ad after you’ve shown it to them a few times. Are any people irritated by that use?

And to add,** Blakeyrat**,no explanation is owed at all. I can keep my buying habits to myself for irrational reasons or no reason at all. Because they’re mine. I should be able to do whatever I like without third parties storing my information against my will (keeping in mind that, again, nobody knows how it will be used in the future).

Moreover, you are justifying this stuff completely backwards. Nobody should be able to collect my information and try to justify it later. That kind of post-hoc justification is *pure *bullshit. They should have to justify why they need it *before *they get it. But that’s not how it works. There’s probably an oblique line or checkbox hidden in 5-point font in the terms and conditions about it, but that doesn’t constitute explicit notification. I know it, you know it, and advertisers know it. They don’t make this kind of data collection opt-in because they know most people would decline it (or demand due payment in exchange).

Screw them, emphatically.