Every time you fire up your computer and start browsing the internet, advertising trackers latch onto your identity and follow you around the internet.
Internet tracking isn't new, of course, but just how much Big Tech is tracking your online movements may come as a surprise.
A new SurfShark report reveals the true extent to how much some of the biggest sites are tracking you, analyzing your data, and selling your information to advertising companies.
There are plenty of names you'd expect: Google, Facebook, Amazon, and so on, but a few on the list that you might not expect.
Which Website Has the Most Trackers?
The Surfshark report lists the site with the most trackers as The Chive, the clickbait, hoax-peddling entertainment site that remains one of the most popular sites on the web despite its oft-questionable content.
In 2013, Bloomberg described The Chive as a "crowdsourced, internet version of a lad magazine—the Maxim of the 21st century," and the site has maintained a core audience by never straying too far from its core ideals.
The number of trackers on the site speaks to how would-be advertisers view the site and its content. Although there is plenty of advertising on The Chive, that there are nearly 150 trackers suggests The Chive is a useful platform for targeting certain demographics and does it well.
Elsewhere in the top ten, you'll find other sites that peddle a mixture of clickbait content alongside actual news reporting, aiming to get eyes on the page above all else. It's no surprise that sites like these are host to so many trackers.
Which Website Has the Least Trackers?
So, if The Chive has the most trackers, which website has the least?
Well, that title is shared between Wikipedia and TikTok, with both sites hosting three trackers each. Coming in close behind is Instagram with four, then Netflix, Bandcamp, and Facebook Messenger with five.
There are likely two names on that list you weren't expecting to see: Facebook Messenger and TikTok. We immediately associate social media platforms with advertising tracking, and you're not wrong if this is the assumption you made. The big difference is that as social media sites with billions of users, they don't need extra trackers to make money from your data, as users are already willingly handing over so much.
Website Tracking Trends: Which Types of Website Have the Most Trackers?
One of the most interesting things that the Surfshark report reveals is the difference in advertising tracker numbers between different website types. For example, the business site with the most and least trackers are Adweek (112) and the Financial Times (20), while with dating sites, the difference between OkCupid (26) and eharmony (12) is much smaller.
Furthermore, it is evident that lifestyle sites have way more advertising tracking than any other type of website, averaging around 63 trackers per website. Comparatively, sites that deal with music and science-related topics have an average of just 33 trackers per website, almost half of those sites dealing in so-called "lifestyle" topics.
Can You Stop Advertising Trackers?
In each category in the Surfshark report, you'll find suspect websites harboring more trackers than you would expect. However, the divide isn't always clear either, with some websites hosting more trackers than you might think, even if they have a good overall reputation.
But, what if you want to block the trackers for good? Well, you have a couple of options, starting with our guide to the best privacy extensions for Google Chrome, following up with learning about how you check who is tracking you online.
But, for the most part, learning who is tracking you is a small step in the battle for greater online privacy. The rest of the time, you'll struggle to find out who is tracking you, harvesting your data, and selling for profit.