On your phone or laptop, a browser is the main way you access your internet, and the main way your data leaks. Whether it’s through advertisers, marketing companies, social media sites, analytics, and the website themselves, your data is being collected as you navigate the internet, shop online, or read the news.
One of the best tools to prevent all this tracking is to use a content blocker. For browsers, we like Ghostery.
Ghostery is a browser extension that detects and blocks thousands of third-parties found on websites that track your internet browsing activity. The browser extension is designed to keep your privacy while also making your browsing experience simpler and faster. Here’s how it works.
Privacy at a Default
At its core, Ghostery is a content blocker and aims to speed up your browsing by blocking trackers (of all kinds) and ads. When you install Ghostery, you’ll have an option to quickly customize and set-it up with options other than the default ones provided (this is optional: Ghostery will start working as soon as it’s installed)
As you browse, Ghostery will block advertisements, block specific trackers and anonymize personal data points collected by other trackers Ghostery allows. And you can see what has been blocked on any given site in a Simple View or a Detailed View.
The detailed view lists the types of trackers blocked (or allowed) on the page and breaks them down by function—whether they’re advertisers, analytics, or other kinds of trackers found on the page.
By default, Ghostery has “Smart Blocking” on, which is a feature that ensures pages aren’t broken or unusable because a content blocker is on. Some sites don’t like ad or tracker blockers and will prevent users from using the site if they have blocking on — the ‘Smart Blocking’ feature is designed to limit blocking so the site is still usable.
Custom options are available
As you set up Ghostery or use it while you browse, you have the option to “trust” a site, which would stop all anti-tracking or “restrict” a site, which will block all trackers on the site itself. You can also toggle Ghostery on or off for a specific site as well. All these options will persist for the site so you don’t have to fiddle with Ghostery everytime you open your browser or visit a specific site.
Historical Data available (with upgrade)
If you pay for Ghostery Plus, you can see historical data, which shows you how many trackers and ads Ghostery has blocked over time.
Life with Ghostery
Ghostery is one of the easiest content blockers to use and while they help keep you private by blocking trackers and ads, their main concern is making sure your browsing is fast. By blocking trackers and ads, you can load pages much faster because you aren’t loading heavy video advertisements or countless trackers.
Ghostery is also extremely easy to set up—it starts working as soon as you install it and you don’t even have to create an account (though you can if you like).
Ghostery Plus is a slight upgrade for $3.99 a month and offers additional features like Ghostery Themes (colors and patterns to choose from), the previously-mentioned historical data, and priority support if you come across any issues.
However, this paid subscription doesn’t provide any additional benefits when it comes to privacy—Ghostery says so themselves—it’s an option for anyone who wants to support the company and what they do.
The Ghostery Browser Extension is available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Edge. A slightly lighter version, Ghostery Lite, is available for Safari but contains much of the blocking and anti-tracking features found in this extension.
Ghostery’s browser extension is extremely easy to use, even for someone who’s new to content blocking. We like the easy setup that takes nearly no time at all and the fact that it’s, by default, built to block ads and trackers without minimal interruption to the browsing experience.
We trust Ghostery and they have a great track record of creating helpful products aimed at preserving its users’ privacy.