Yesterday friend and fellow traveller in/on/around digital cultures Alexandra Juhasz posted #hardtruth #67 “Watch Those Monetizing Their Watching From the Shadows”, part of her series of 100 #hardtruths about fake news, digital culture, and the many challenges of the first 100 days of #45.

To help build the post, I shared with Alex screenshots of my morning browsing – reading the news, going to the bank, fact-checking — with two browser plugins designed to help keep 3rd party companies from watching my internet activity (and then turning around and selling that data). The topic was on my mind in light of the damaging roll-back of internet privacy rules that banned ISPs from tracking behavior and selling it (#broadbandprivacy).

With both Ghostery and Disconnect enabled, I captured a brief snapshot of the 100+ companies that were trying to track my morning routine.

Later in the day, I went back to Alex’s site to grab the link and noticed that there were a lot of people watching…which made me feel weird. A post about the people watching with a whole lot of people watching.

So I spent a little time noodling around and found that different posts on Alex’s site had different sized “crowds” watching from the shadows.

Screenshot 2017-03-29 07.43.02
35 Trackers via Disconnect here (big gap with Ghostery, which only shows five)
Screenshot 2017-03-29 07.43.49
47 for a piece on a You-Tube series
Screenshot 2017-03-29 07.44.51
30 watching on Nick Mirzoeff and consuming videos of black death

This leaves me curious – is the difference content-based? These each have far more people watching than the frontpage of her blog, which clocks in at just FOUR trackers. Is there a set of trackers that are only there when one talks about race, or sex, or bad you-tube videos?

What I was able to gather from a *very* surface level tour around yesterday is that there is further reason to look into this. It could be that what Disconnect is picking up is pingbacks, embedded content, or something else entirely. There’s a big gap between Ghostery’s numbers and those of Disconnect in some instances that I can’t yet explain. Unfortunately, I can’t fall down this rabbit hole right now (I’m in “book or die” mode), but I wanted to share this back with Alex and also bookmark for further exploration.

Also – what’s up, WordPress, with the 20 trackers when I opened the post editor and now 35 trackers as I write this post??