Cross-site tracking allows a company (like Facebook) to follow you as you move through the web. Information gathered via cross-site tracking could make your browsing experience customized and meaningful. But the same technology could feel intrusive or awkward.
For example, your niece’s birthday is coming up, and she loves Hello Kitty. You searched for the perfect gift on Amazon. Now, you see Hello Kitty ads on every website you visit, including those you use for work.
Disabling cross-site tracking means companies can’t gather this data. Make it happen in a few simple steps.
What is cross-site tracking?
Most of us (about 80 percent, researchers say) want website customization. When we arrive, we want to see things that matter to us. Cross-site tracking makes that possible.
To enable cross-site tracking, a company puts a tiny cookie on your browser after a visit. That cookie remains active as you zoom through the web. Personal data (like your name or address) might be excluded. But the cookie has enough information about you to track you over time.
Privacy risks are real. Companies are following you, even if you didn't want them to, and they're gathering up information to make their products better.
Disable cross-site tracking>
Companies want your data, but you're not required to hand it out. You can change your settings and block this functionality.
- Tapping the three horizontal buttons in the top-right corner of your screen.
- Tapping "Settings," and scrolling to "Privacy and Security."
- Tapping "Cookies and Other Site Data," and selecting the "Do not track" slider.
Disable cross-site tracking in Safari by:
- Choosing "Preferences."
- Tapping "Privacy."
- Selecting "Prevent cross-site tracking."
Cross-site tracking is enabled in Firefox by default. If you're using this browser, you already have protections. Do even more with private browsing:
- Tap "Menu."
- Tap "New private window."
If you surf the web with your mobile device, sites could track you with cookies here too. Every phone and web browser is different, and it's not efficient to explain all of the myriad methods you could use to eliminate the risk. In general, head to "Settings" on your phone, look for your web browser, and look for a slider or button involving cross-site tracking.
Some companies, including Google, are changing the way they handle cookies. Read up on how Chrome 80 might change your cookies for good on our blog.
Personalizing the Customer Experience: Driving Differentiation in Retail. (April 2020). McKinsey and Company.
Turn "Do Not Track" On or Off. Google Chrome.