Looking to eliminate targeted ads
March 30, 2013 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Targeted ads based on web history are creeping me the hell out. How can I make it stop?

For example, looking for socks on Amazon and then going to site x and seeing ads for...socks on Amazon! In addition to finding it pretty unsettling and in principle unacceptable, I also don't like the fact that anyone who might use my computer or see me using mine who themselves know how those ads work will know what I've been doing on the web. (Oh hey pdq, why might you be getting ads for engagement rings/homeopathic AIDS medication/voodoo dolls?)

I would like a solution that blocks them completely and in general gives me more control over privacy stuff. I use chrome these days, but I suppose I'd be willing to switch. I recall using firefox + noscript like five years ago, but I got sick of constantly having to make 30 exceptions per web page.

posted by pdq to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Ghostery can help. It's available on a whole bunch of browsers.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:42 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:46 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use AdBlock in both Chrome and Firefox. I think it just prevents me from seeing the ads rather than stopping the tracking that is going on in the background, but I do like it for that.
posted by jeoc at 7:46 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I use all of the options noted above. They mostly work. Making sure you're logged out of sites like Amazon when you're not actively using them is also useful. disconnect is really terrific but it can sometimes mean that you can't click through from one social site to the next [i.e. you are on a website that says "Comment by logging in with your Twitter handle"] which is only slightly a pain. You can also go to your Google ad preferences to make sure they are not serving you targeted ads.
posted by jessamyn at 7:51 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you run Windows, there are a few programs around that act as ad-blockers. Most are shareware, so you'll have to pay some smallish amount of money. I use AdMuncher on my personal computer and it works great, but since I have only one license I also use the already mentioned browser extension Ghostery (along with AdBlock) in a work machine. Some people like to use a HOSTS file, which can be tricky if you're not a knowledgeable user. Do a web search for it if you're curious to see if that's for you or not. I suppose if one wants to control in detail some things, a cookie manager extension is a good idea. Personally, I never found one that seemed worth the trouble for me, I just periodically erase all cookies.
posted by Iosephus at 8:05 AM on March 30, 2013

First, turn off Google web history, if you have not already done so.

Then opt out of permission marketing in Google.

Then check everything else.
posted by infini at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Adblock so you don't see (as many) ads, Ghostery so you're not tracked (as much). Add in Noscript if you want to be tracked even less but are willing to give up functionality on some sites.
posted by zippy at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Those ads probably have a little circled "i" in the upper right corner (It might say AdChoices, too). Click that, and you'll get a page with links that let you change how you're targeted.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:51 AM on March 30, 2013

Yeah, while some ad networks (like Google) give you a little control over tracking / marketing behavior, there are plenty of other ad networks that don't. And there are SO MANY ad networks out there that even if they did, trying to identify them all and set preferences would be maddening.

So the AdBlock / Ghostery solution is the only thing that actually works. A particular site can still see that your IP visits their site every so often, unless you're also using a proxy server, but cross-site (or rather cross-company) tracking becomes much harder.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2013


It's kind of a pain to learn how to use, but once you're comfortable with it, it eliminates not just ads, but all kinds of Javascript buffoonery.
posted by Hatashran at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2013

I got rid of these on FB by "liking" a bunch of commie, revolutionary stuff.
posted by telstar at 7:31 PM on March 30, 2013

Adblock Plus, subscribed to EasyPrivacy+EasyList. Note that this list is much less fiddly to find using the Firefox version of ABP than using the Chrome version.

Clicking this EasyPrivacy+EasyList installation link (source: Known Adblock Plus subscriptions) is the easiest way to subscribe in Firefox (might also work in Chrome - not sure). If you need to install it by hand using "subscribe to a different list" inside the browser's Adblock Plus settings, you'll need this direct download link to fill in the settings for the Chrome version.

You can also get EasyPrivacy as a separate supplemental list (here's the direct download link) if you'd prefer to use it with some main blacklist other than EasyList.

According to The Official EasyList Website, IE9 can also be taught how to block these things.
posted by flabdablet at 9:29 PM on March 30, 2013

It might also be worth your while giving NoScript another chance. The key to reducing the number of servers you need to make decisions about when visiting a new site with NoScript is adding every advertising server you see to NoScript's "untrusted" list; it will then not present these as candidates for possible script approval.
posted by flabdablet at 9:44 PM on March 30, 2013

As mentioned: Ghostery, Ad Block Plus, No Script, better Privacy

And don't forget, there is no place like
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:46 PM on March 30, 2013

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