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The Internet Your Rights Online

The Advertisers are Watching You 155

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the zip-it-up-buddy dept.
pcause noted that the New York Times is running a story about the information being collected about you by internet advertisers. Of course much of this is not news to you, but it's important that the mainstream media is more aware of the issues surrounding this.
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The Advertisers are Watching You

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  • by Spritzer (950539) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:25AM (#22700680) Journal
    Sounds like the 4th largest bank in the U.S. [wachovia.com] exposing me to no less than 12 single pixel tracking images from the likes of doubleclick, ru4, advertising.com etc. when I want to login followed by tracking by an outside source [hitbox.com] while using the "secure" area of the site(hooray for AdBlock). I complained and complained. I finally received a response from the office of CEO Ken Thompson telling me to piss up a rope. I am no longer a customer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In Soviet Russia you watch the advertisers! Wait, that doesn't sound quite right...
    • Was it an email response? I'd love to see it.
      • by Spritzer (950539) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:00AM (#22701332) Journal
        No, it was a real letter of all things. Maybe I should scan it and post it when I get home.
        • If you don't mind, I for one would be interested to see it.
        • by robertjw (728654)
          You absolutely should. People need to be aware of these type of things when they go on. I think, as more technically inclined individuals, we have a responsibility to inform the world about potential security risks like this. The average person just doesn't understand.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Spritzer (950539) *
            What was fun was watching the look on the branch manager's face when I explained why I was closing my accounts. After I showed him the letter (he was shocked) he asked me to show him what I was talking about. I had him open the page source and find the huge section "" filled with tracking links. Again, he was shocked. He said, "I sure am glad I work here and can do my banking any time I want. This is crazy."

            Of course, CEO/Chairman/President Thompson believes it to be a secure, nonintrusive essential part o
    • by JDWTopGuy (209256)
      I'd love to see that response, do you have it to post?
    • As soon as I am back in the States (Wednesday) I'll scan it. I'll post a link as a reply to the parent, so subscribe to it if you're interested.
    • This is precisely why Adblock [mozilla.org] is necessary. The advertisers piss and moan about how there will be no more free content if everyone blocks their ads, but in a world where your privacy is actively and automatically subverted without your knowledge or consent then what else can one reasonably do? The advertisers sowed the wind with their tracking, targeting, and indiscriminate sale of personal information and now they will reap the whirlwind as more and more people black hole both their ads and their tracking
    • I was a Wachovia customer until tomorrow. Thanks.
      • Upon researching, I cannot find the hitbox code in the source of the secure part of the Wachovia site. On the front page, yes, but not after I log in. Hwoever, there are other third-party references such as CSS, JS, and image files pulled from akamai.net. I've sent them a letter in the Send Message form, something like this:

        I see that there are images and other files pulled from akamai.net in the secure area of the Wachovia website. I am concerned about the potential for misuse by Akamai. I am not an Akamai customer, and Akamai is not an accredited financial institution. Please explain why these images must be served from Akamai, and know that your response will be quoted in my letters to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Thank you.

        • i can't find it on the source either, but looking at the adblock window in firefox, it most certainly is there, i can't seem to figure out where its coming from though.
          • I don't use Adblock. I use Siteblock.

            Siteblock works like this: Site pisses me off. I go away. There is not a single website on the Internet that I need so badly that I must use it but cannot be bothered to see it's advertising.
        • by Spritzer (950539) *
          It is generated by a script. In AdBlock look for a script ...akamai.net...Wachovia.com/metric/*.js
    • Here is the letter (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spritzer (950539) *
      ENJOY! [photobucket.com]
      • I just got my reply as well:

        I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. According to the
        Customer Agreement, at the time of enrollment, you agree that we may
        disclose information to your accounts for the following reasons:

        I. We have entered into agreements to have third parties provide
        certain services or receive your account information. Such Service
        Providers are required to adhere to Wachovia's standards of security and
        privacy protection. We will provide the Service Provider with
        information about your linked accounts, your Services transactions, and
        your electronic mail messages in order to carry out your instructions;

        I don't know exactly what 'instructions' they are talking about. Does it refer only to banking instruction, or is clicking a website link considered an instruction? In any case, this is coming with me to my branch as well.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:25AM (#22700690)
    It's not good news that the mainstream media has picked it up, because they just use if for a lot of sensationalist fear-mongering that only serves to scare the uninformed public even more. I was watching CSPAN this morning and they were talking about this. People were calling in who obviously had no clue about the internet saying things like "My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this" and talking out of their asses.

    Stuff like this doesn't really inform the general public, it only frightens them and makes them even more irrational. It's like the occassional story about the kidnapped kid or terrorist attack that causes everyone to freak out and start demanding irrational laws.

    • by gnick (1211984) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:35AM (#22700910) Homepage

      My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this
      We can't even get our secretary to order things online using the company card - We have to go to another group's purchaser if we want to use a vendor that won't accept phone orders.

      At the risk of straying off-topic, I'd like to see a "mainstream media" story about the different security risks/exposures between internet purchases, phone purchases, and in-store purchases. Tracking behavior is certainly easier online, but cutting people out of the loop does good things for security. Although imperfect, I trust automated billing a lot more than inmates working phone banks or high-schoolers swiping cards at their summer employment and throwing away paper receipts.
      • by calyphus (646665)

        We can't even get our secretary to order things online using the company card
        Hmm, you've got an employee who refuses to use a company asset for an intended use (online purchases); willfully shirking a job responsibility. Instead of correcting the problem by replacing the incompetent employee, you allow them to require excess work from you to accomplish company goals. Sucker!

        Who's in charge? You or "your" secretary?
        • by gnick (1211984)

          Who's in charge? You or "your" secretary?
          Neither - Our boss. But, between she and I, she probably has more pull because she can foul up more things that I need than vice versa (scheduling meeting rooms, shipping packages, handling orders, etc.)

          Unfortunately, in some arenas, replacing employees who aren't doing their jobs can be very difficult. So, even when they're blatantly ignoring or refusing their duties, they stay in place.

          Welcome to the government...
    • "My wife refuses to buy anything online because of stuff like this" and talking out of their asses.

      Yet, I can almost guarantee these are the same people who have no problem with the government wiretapping their phones without a warrant, or having a National ID card or any of the other means of tracking and doing away with ones privacy that this administration (and others) have come up with all the name of supposed "security". After all, if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't worry about the go

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Funny thing about it was, I watched CSPAN for about an hour. During that time one-after-another idiot called in with inane comments about their irrational internet fears. In that time, not a single person with any knowledge called in and told people about simple measures like Firefox, NoScript, Adblock, the need to check for an SSL connection, anti-phishing features on modern browsers, etc. Just goes to show the level of disconnect between those of us here on /. and our world and the vast majority of the r
    • The best part is the "main stream media" needs this extensive tracking in order to provide better context sensitive advertising to boost profits and stay alive in this still new to them online world.
      • by rtb61 (674572)
        Actually you a little bet off track context sensitive marketing relates to the content and not the user. Main stream media are of course producers of content and for them it is better that the advertising be targeted at the quality of the content and in turn they can demonstrate an applicable user base, with some minor statistics to delineate the market group that user base represents.

        Targeting the user as promulgated by the new webvertisers really doesn't work, there is absolutely no point compiling a ye

    • Stuff like this doesn't really inform the general public, it only frightens them and makes them even more irrational. It's like the occassional story about the kidnapped kid or terrorist attack that causes everyone to freak out and start demanding irrational laws.

      I agree it's not a case for more stupid laws, but it needs to be said, to be brought out into the light. The truth is that online advertisers do everything they can to track people online. How many of the regular people are aware of it? Even nerds

    • by PReDiToR (687141) on Monday March 10, 2008 @11:29AM (#22702848) Homepage Journal
      How can we educate the general public into being able to raise their voices against something like Phorm [phorm.com] without scaring the crap out of them?

      Once you know that every character in your page request has been sent through an adware service, you kinda lose control of your bowels ...
  • by Alien Being (18488) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:25AM (#22700694)
    But i'm not watching them. Thanks Adblock!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnick (1211984)

      Thanks Adblock!

      I also use Adblock (I'm sure that a lot of this audience does), but try to use it responsibly. If you completely Adblock pages that you like that rely largely in ad revenue to stay afloat, you are ensuring that the level of service will degrade or that other (possibly more invasive) methods of generating revenue will be implemented. For sites you want to keep going (e.g. slashdot), especially ones with well-targeted ads, remember the white-list option.

      Every time you Adblock slashdot, the gods flip a bit

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by notque (636838)
        I disagree. Screw all advertising. It's intention is to delude you into purchasing something on issues aside from the products qualities.

        Advertising is intended to lie to me. I refuse to spend time listening to known liars.
        • Re:That may be... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:09AM (#22701486) Homepage

          It's intention is to delude you into purchasing something on issues aside from the products qualities.
          I feel filthy standing up for advertisers - Ads have become a blemish on the planet and I'm sick of being attacked in every possible venue by random images telling me that I need random things. In fact, I'm of the opinion that prescription drug ads should be illegal.

          However, I still think it's a little inaccurate to say that all ads are trying to get you to buy something based "on issues aside from the products qualities". That's often true - Fear-mongering / Band-wagon attacks / etc are common. But ads do exist that do nothing more than try to make you aware of a product's qualities rather than trying to delude you.

          I'm not saying, I'm just saying...
          • by RandoX (828285)
            I wish I had mod points, if only for the idea of banning prescription drug advertisements. That makes more sense than anything I've heard here in a long time.
          • In fact, I'm of the opinion that prescription drug ads should be illegal.

            This is such an excellent point. I agree, there really is not good, ethical point to having drugs advertised to common people. My doctor knows exactly what drugs should be prescribed based on my condition. Most people don't have the knowledge to know what's best for them based on an ad. To go along with your point, it should also be illegal to offer kickbacks to doctors for prescribing certain drugs.

            Back on topic, I think a
            • by calyphus (646665)

              ds which try to use statistics to state their products worth (9 out of 10 dentists, etc) because we all know it's lies
              My latest peeve along these lines are claims of efficacy based on the number of people who have purchased something, "Could we have sold so many of these if it didn't work?" They plea.

              My internal reply is always, "So what if you suckered them. You still haven't proven it isn't a waste of my money."
          • by Hatta (162192)
            Fear-mongering / Band-wagon attacks / etc are common. But ads do exist that do nothing more than try to make you aware of a product's qualities rather than trying to delude you.

            Such as?

            There's always going to be some spin in marketing. Even a 100% factual bullet point technology brief from a manufacturer can be spun. Suppose you're comparing product A and product B, sure product B might have feature Y, but how much does that matter? Throw enough trivial features on that list and product B starts looking
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Advertising is intended to lie to me.
          Only on TV and radio. And in magazines. And movies. And at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts and written on the sky. But not in dreams. No siree!
      • Re:That may be... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Mox-Dragon (87528) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:50AM (#22701174)
        I use adblock, too, and in the time before I did, I *never* clicked on an online ad. Not once. Nor can I imagine a situation in which I would. ever. So why shouldn't I adblock not only slashdot, but every website?
        • Re:That may be... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gnick (1211984) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:02AM (#22701366) Homepage

          So why shouldn't I adblock not only slashdot, but every website?
          I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.

          Feel free to correct me if anyone has actual knowledge/data. I reject the argument that white-listing is stupid because advertisers suck - I know they do but, if they pay sites I like to provide content to me without forcing me to subscribe, I'll put up with them. But, if white-listing slashdot (et al.) really does not help them at all, then I'll clean out my white-list.
          • by misleb (129952)

            I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.

            Then their model is flawed. Personally, I don't like the idea of being passively influenced like that. I'd feel much better about my purchases if I knew my decisions were based on my own research than some subliminal message.

            Feel free to correct me if anyone has actual knowledge/data. I reject the argument that white-listing is stupid beca

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Mox-Dragon (87528)

              I do believe that WE are providing the majority of content for Slashdot.


              Seriously. I've been waiting for a check for like, five years now. All of those adblocking slashdot readers must be interfering with my revenue stream.
          • I don't recall ever clicking an ad either but, if I blindly speculate correctly, some ad-revenue is generated based on targeted viewing rather than purely click-through.

            I don't know the specifics for Slashdot, but, click-through is one of many ways of advertising. Impressions alone (e.g. targeted viewing) are a important market as well (branding).

            I use AdMuncher for my adblocking, including those here on Slashdot. While I do feel guilty about blocking those ads, surfing without an Adblocker for an hour cures that. I do not want to look at obtrusive ads with some scattered content around them. I don't want to look for content buried in dozens of ads which aren't even rem

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)
            AdBlock needs an option to graylist sites where ads are loaded but not displayed. If you weren't going to click on them anyway, the site still gets paid and you don't get annoyed.
      • Re:That may be... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:26AM (#22701766)

        I also use Adblock (I'm sure that a lot of this audience does), but try to use it responsibly. If you completely Adblock pages that you like that rely largely in ad revenue to stay afloat, you are ensuring that the level of service will degrade or that other (possibly more invasive) methods of generating revenue will be implemented. For sites you want to keep going (e.g. slashdot), especially ones with well-targeted ads, remember the white-list option.


        I still don't get the supposed benefit of "well-targeted" ads. Every time I hear that phrase I think of the book/movie Minority Report.

        As for sites like slashdot shutting down... meh. I like slashdot and all, but quite frankly, if it went under because a few people who don't like to see ads block them, then so be it. There was an internet before massive amounts of advertising. There will continue to be an internet with massive amounts of ad blocking. If they invent more invasive methods, we'll block those too and you suckers who feel morally obligated to look at them will just have to suck it up.

        -matthew
        • by jefu (53450)

          What is likely to happen is that more and more sites will go to flash/silverlight and the like. They'll likely say it is because it offers browser independence, and an enriched user experience, but I suspect that it will be mostly because then they control your content - and will be able to add ads wherever they want and you'll have little choice but to watch them (until someone invents an ad skipper, of course). Already there are lots of flash sites that make you sit through ads before and while you v

          • by misleb (129952)

            What is likely to happen is that more and more sites will go to flash/silverlight and the like.

            If it goes that way, I doubt it would have anything to do with ad blocking. From what I understand, advertisers generally don't see ad blocking (on the web) as a big problem.

            They'll likely say it is because it offers browser independence, and an enriched user experience, but I suspect that it will be mostly because then they control your content - and will be able to add ads wherever they want and you'll have l

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          The difference is that Slashdot doesn't have "massive amounts of advertising". The front page has exactly 1 ad on each page. If that's too much for you, then fine. But I find it to be unobtrusive, and a very good way at generating cash. People are probably far more likely to remember and click on an ad, when they only see a single advertisement.
          • by misleb (129952)

            The difference is that Slashdot doesn't have "massive amounts of advertising". The front page has exactly 1 ad on each page. If that's too much for you, then fine. But I find it to be unobtrusive, and a very good way at generating cash. People are probably far more likely to remember and click on an ad, when they only see a single advertisement.

            The interesting (great, really) thing about AdBlock Plus is that it is a lot easier to block nearly every ad than it is to selectively block. Even if the ads on Sl

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          The Minority Report nightmare isn't that the ads are targeted, but that they are numerous and intrusive. Ads can be targeted without being intrusive-- Google's built an entire company on that concept.
          • by misleb (129952)

            The Minority Report nightmare isn't that the ads are targeted, but that they are numerous and intrusive.

            It is all three, IMO. How creepy would it be for an ad to call you by name and know more than it should about your personal life? Even if it was just once a day and relatively subtle. Like maybe you're on the bus and hear a hushed voice come from behind the seat, "Psst! Hey Matt. Wouldn't a Whopper sound good right about now? We know you like to eat lunch at around this time and there is a Burger King a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by srh2o (442608)
        You do what you want... but don't try to tell me that I'm not using Adblock "responsibly" The advertisers had their chance with me. What I got was pop-overs, pop-unders, drive by installs and more impressions of X10 cameras than I will ever care about. I got ads that blocked the content, that played loud sounds, that floated all over the page. Adblock is a response to irresponsible behavior by the advertisers. I use it and I use it on full. There was content before the ads and there will be content aft
        • by robertjw (728654)
          I agree completely. The biggest problem with Internet ads is all the abuse.

          There are plenty of businesses that SHOULD advertise to me. There are many goods and services that I would take advantage of if I just knew what businesses offer. Instead of getting me what I want, I am bombarded with (as you said) X10 cameras, male enhancement pills, "free" ipods, or whatever. Show me products I can use. Target them based on my location. Show me specials on something I MIGHT be interested in. Get me into y
    • by Ilgaz (86384) *
      (good joke)

      Well what is meaning of Ad Block if the largest search engine on planet with petabytes (if not zeta) storage offers a free tool to webmasters (and themselves of course) to watch your behaviour on pages with single line?

      I am speaking about Google Analytics.

      Enjoy https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4001 [mozilla.org]

      Another thing is the shadowy ISP issue. Comcast can ignore the FCC which is considered God for communication companies and can still mess with peoples connection if they dare to use bittor
  • Of course much of this is not news to you
    Brought to you by /.--News for Nerds
  • Gee the mainstream media aware of this issue, one which they are ultimately responsible for? 1. Newspapers and magazines - You gave them all your demographic information in their questionaires and quizzes and contests for years. 2. Nielsen boxes on televisions. 3. Even voting by phone for american idol, and even when Star Search did it. 4. Those annoying survey questions you used to get when you called for a service, to pay a bill. Etc. Mainstream media is feeling the hurt of the internet still and loo
  • I see dead ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nomen Publicus (1150725) on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:31AM (#22700838)
    If they are watching, why is it that I never see any "targeted" adverts? TV can be excused for just throwing everything into the aether and hoping that something sticks, but on the web why do I see all kinds of ads in which I have no interest in at all?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      How dare you question the advertising executives?!? They know what you need regardless of whether you think you need it or not, and you will be served those ads!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by edwardpickman (965122)
      Are you sure? Do you think you get all those Viagra and big dick ads by accident?
    • by Xelios (822510)
      I think for the most part they're tracking general tendencies. What topics come up most often in search boxes. Which links do users follow the most on our website. What kinds of products do users look at on each visit (used often on sites like Amazon with their "other people also looked at these things" ads). I suppose they could track your surfing habits on their site if you create an account there and login regularly. Beyond that it's just cookies, you can set most browsers to delete them automatically on
    • They can't advertise anything that's illegal. Pervert.
    • That reminds me of surfing discovery.com/mythbusters and watching their video feeds. Between each clip you watch, you're presented with a short commercial. Most frequently it's for some kind of Oil of Olay product (seriously, wtf?). Based on even your personal best guess for MythBusters demographics, I'm sure we could agree that this kind of advertisement is sorely misplaced. Let's say that over 50% of the viewership are males (which seems an easy assumption to make), this ad is WAY off the mark.
  • noui consilia et ueteres quaecumque monetis amici,
    "pone seram, cohibe".
    sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes
    cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor


    "I hear always the admonishment of my friends:
    'Bolt her in, and constrain her!'
    But who will watch the watchmen?
    The wife arranges accordingly, and begins with them."
  • So, does deleting my cookies (please, no food jokes) on a regular basis, thwart their intentions, or are they sending home more traceable stuff, like the MAC address?
    • by Sporkinum (655143)
      Or you can do like me and have the browser prompt you every time it tries to set a cookie. Depending on what is sent, I can either allow always, allow as session, or block always.I very rarely allow always.
      • by Beetle B. (516615)
        That's a royal pain.

        Just use the CookieSafe addon in Firefox. Will make your browsing infinitely easier, with no loss in flexibility.
    • Re:Cookies (Score:5, Informative)

      by mlts (1038732) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:52AM (#22702196)
      One thing that people don't clear as often as cookies is the Flash Shared Object repository. A lot of advertisers use this to store persistent user data in lieu of cookies to monitor viewer activities.

      I personally use two ways to block this. First is NoScript which is a must have companion to Adblock. Adblock stops the known stuff, NoScript stops the unknown stuff.

      Second, on Windows, I deleted the Flash Player folder in Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Macromedia, and created a text file with the exact same name as the folder. This makes the Flash player unable to write any persistent data to disk. However, this does sometimes mess up sites like YouTube which store legit preferences.

      Third, I run a utility called ccleaner (used to be called Crap Cleaner) which is great for removing random junk left over in Windows apps.

      This is not perfect, but good for most sites. If you want better security, consider running your Web browser in a VM that dumps all changes since a known good snapshot. I do this for some entertainment Flash sites because I don't feel like allowing, even temporarily, all the data mining companies write access to my machine.
      • by Ollabelle (980205)
        Thanks. I do some of that, but the text file idea is great. I'll try setting up the VM as well.
        • by mlts (1038732) *
          Finally, if this is a concern, there is always the IP address which advertisers can use to correlate information.

          This can be fixed by using an anonymous service provider, or if you have access to a company or campus network, VPN in and browse from there.

          Of course, there is TOR, but the advantage of an anonymous service provider or a corporate VPN is that you have a reliable, persistent connection. I try to save the TOR bandwidth for those who really need it.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)
        You can configure Flash not to store any data locally. Go here: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager03.html [macromedia.com]

        You can then configure settings for each site you visit by right clicking on a flash object and selecting "Options". You can allow each site to store a small amount of data, say 4k.

        FlashBlock for Firefox is also an excellent solution to this problem.
  • Advertisers Are Watching Me?
            And yet I am not watching them as they present no more significance than a sparrow watching me and inspire no more interest than a slug.

     
  • In Soviet Russia, you... oh wait. That's not right.
  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:57AM (#22701296) Homepage Journal
    The person who makes privacy as easy and intuitive as Google search will make a bundle. The public isn't ready yet, but when the time comes, the market for privacy will be huge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsslay (807818)
      Well in the mean time; do this;

      - use Firefox.
      - use Adblock. Constantly update it. Mercilessly add all sites that push annoying, irrelevant ads onto your screen.
      - regularly clear your cookies. Block any cookie forever from any website you don't immediately recognise.
      - use NoScript. Honestly, you'll be amazed by the source of all the scripts that attempt to run on your computer. How many of them do you care about?
      - lie on every stupid compulsory registration you en
      • What i'm looking for is super consolidation of Adblock, NoScript and CSLite (cookie manager), in simple text file format or the like.
        Put a known advertiser into this list and all content from the domain and subdomains is blocked at all levels of the browser. Bonus points if this list can be updated via a subscription list.

        This will a major time-saver for most of us.

        Cheers.
  • From TFA: So anybody who searches for information on such disparate topics as iron supplements, airlines, hotels and soft drinks may see ads for those products and services later on.

    What if I search for AdBlocker and NoScript? Will I see ads for those products? Can a Firefox ad-blocking add-on be so awesome that it cannot block ads from itself? Whoa.
  • One thing I do in an attempt to mitigate the ubiquity of ads is to simply redirect the domains to localhost.

    On my macs, linux, unix (mostly solaris) boxes, and windows. This means that instead of ads I get "Unable to connect ..."
    errors, but I much prefer those blocks. Additionally, I notice that ad sites delay the loads of many pages, thus redirecting
    them to localhost speeds up browsing.

    I know most of us know where the hosts files lie on most systems, but for those who don't:

    OS X: /private/etc/hosts

    Unix/Lin
  • Relevant Ad targeting is in many ways a good thing. I cannot stand to watch TV because of the commercials, but the commercials are for things that I will never be in the market for as a man living in NYC such as feminine hygiene products or cars, cars, cars. If, however, the commercials were for, I dunno, home energy kits or wearable computing, I just might watch them.

    That in turn helps the websites like Slashdot and Tom's Hardware that are not for mass-market media consumers to make enough money in ad rev
    • by mlts (1038732) *
      In some ways, targeted ads are good for that. However, the same information gathered up by advertisers to pitch something you are interested in can easily be used for not so good purposes. Employers can use that information as criteria for promoting or laying off, people that are on the opposite side in a court case can obtain that information and use it against you in court, or it can be used for criminal proceedings later on.

      Targeted ads can be put together with other pieces of information by criminals
  • And that's why, children, I keep my cookies only for one browsing session.

    I don't really want them to find out about my foot-fetish ;)
  • Use a tracker filter (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:47AM (#22702130)
    There's a special filter subscription for Adblock Plus to kill a lot of that tracking
    stuff (webbugs, tracking scripts, etc.), the "ABP Tracking Filter" [adblockplus.org] (see #3 on the left).

    This of course doesn't make you anonymous online at all, but it helps against the worst
    offenders and keeps your data out of their DBs.

    (Full disclosure: I am a co-author of that list)
  • So when the aliens come...

    "We come in peace. We offer you peace, technology, knowledge..."
    "Yeah, why don't you shut up already. What's wrong with my Adblock?"
  • ... block all attempts to access any objects that go "offsite". That would be defined this way. Take the hostname of the web site being visted (the top document), removing the "www" part, if present. Take the hostname of the object being referenced, removing the "www" part, if present. If the name of the object ends with the name of the site (for example "images.slashdot.org" referenced by "slashdot.org"), then it's a match and the object can be processed. If not, give the user an alert in the tab bar

  • How does this contradict with a recent article that says that fewer people actually buy from web advertisements than recently though and that the demographic that clicks on web ads is typically the less educated people with less money or inclination to shop online? (paraphrasing here).

    They can target their ads all they want, but I still ignore them.

    I increasingly see advertising as an intrusion into my life. I rely more and more on Adblock, and I prefer TV shows on DVD. But as I get more clever, the adverti
  • how did you know that this is not news to me?

    Unless...

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