The Markup Blacklight Website Privacy Inspector

Want to know what user tracking technologies may be running on just about any website out there? As the introduction to The Markup’s Blacklight puts it: “Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet?”

The Markup is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how “powerful institutions” use tech on us. Its Blacklight tool lets you enter the URL of any website to scan, and it will then give you a report of any user tracking tech it detects.

Finding user tracking tech on a site shouldn’t be a deal breaker—those that run ads will likely have third-party cookies and ad tracking going on. Good thing Blacklight compares its findings to the industry averages of popular sites to give you a decent enough sense of whether a site’s risky or not.

Go ahead and test it on wordpreneur.com. It currently reports detecting 4 ad trackers and 2 third-party cookies, both below industry averages, and nothing else.

Compare that to one of those clickbait content sites like I just did, the ones that run lots of listicles, promote their “sponsored” content all over the place, are written poorly, and typically a PITA to navigate with all the ads and graphics and articles broken up among an almost infinite number of separate pages. Blacklight found 39 ad trackers, 16 third party cookies, plus giving these two little notices:

  • “When you visit this site, it tells Facebook.”
  • “This site allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.”

And get this: I chose a fairly mild site for that test. Is the Internet fun or what?

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