Do not track featureThis privacy concern on the Internet has become such a major topic that more and more solutions are trying to emerge so as to address it. Simply put, the web has become such a great database for tracking user behaviors. Learn about Do not track feature.

I just recently wrote about Twitter trying to track whatever you are doing online so long as you visit a website with a Twitter share button. But Twitter isn’t the only one who’s doing so. In fact, almost all popular tools, apps are doing so, and to the benefits of every marketer out there. In fact, most of the platform trying to capture what you are doing online are leveraging on one factor: the popularity factor.

Tracking your online activity

The principle is simple: the platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google or whatever, you name it) leverage on the millions of people using their services so as to put some kind of tracking feature (cookies, for example). As those millions of people transit through their service, they just “inject” the code so as to be able to track whatever you do afterward, even though you are no more on their website. With the help of those tracking codes, they can provide you with nice features that give you a customized experience on the internet. Some examples are:

  • Twitter’s suggestion of other interesting people to follow
  • Google Adwords/Adsense ads-serving platform
  • Facebook’s ad serving
  • Amazon’s product suggestion
  • and the list goes on.

While the primary intent of those platforms is genuine, chances are that some users just don’t feel comfortable being tracked all the time.

Do Not Track feature

One interesting development for allowing people to opt-out from those tracking feature is the Do Not Track feature that is integrated into most browsers. Most browsers have already started implementing it, and here are some instructions on how to do it for the major ones:

  • Mozilla Firefox: DNT feature isn’t enabled by default on Firefox. So as to enable it, you have to go to Firefox’s settings under Tools > Options… > Privacy. Then check the option “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked”. In fact, Firefox is one of the browsers that have a well-furnished documentation on its implementation of the DNT feature.
  • Google Chrome: Is it that Google’s browser isn’t “motivated” enough adopting this feature into its browser? I can’t say so. But anyway, the implementation of DNT first started with Chrome extensions: you can then go with the “Keep my Opt-out” extension, for example.
  • Safari:  On Safari preferences, click “Privacy” tab, then Under the “Website tracking” section, check the box marked “Tell websites not to track me“,
  • Internet Explorer: Microsoft has announced that IE10 that will ship with Windows 8 will come with DNT feature enabled by default. I’m not a user of IE9, and I find it a bit awkward having to add an empty list for enabling the Do Not Track feature. So I think I’d rather redirect you to Microsoft’s own documentation for configuring it.

But as with many solutions, there are always some limitations, and one serious one is that even though you enable the Do Not Track feature on your browser, its efficiency still relies on the fact that the site you are browsing should also implement it. Indeed, “honoring” it is solely on the site owner’s decision.