In an effort to promote the new tracking protection features built into its Firefox browser, Mozilla has launched a website called ‘Track This‘ to show you just how bad ads can be.
The idea behind Track This is simple — if you open enough tabs, you can convince advertisers that you’re into certain things, and thus shape the ads you get. According to Mozilla, advertisers follow people across the web using cookies. These small data files are typically used to store information for the sites you visit, like language preferences or what’s in your shopping cart.
Harmless as that may be, advertisers now rely on cookies to collect data about your internet habits without your consent and serve you ads based on what you do online.
To throw advertisers off the trail — or just to see how quickly your browsing habits get turned into ads — Track This lets you choose a persona, then it opens 100 tabs based on that persona to generate advertisements.
Personas include ‘Hypebeast,’ ‘Filthy rich,’ ‘Doomsday’ and ‘Influencer.’ Once you select your persona, Track This will prep you for opening 100 tabs, such as turning off pop-up blockers for the site.
Interestingly, when I tried using Track This on Firefox, the site told me that due to protections against malicious sites built into the browser, it’d only open a maximum of 20 tabs. It then directed me to try another browser if I wanted to see 100 tabs.
So, I dusted off Chrome, booted it up and launch 100 tabs under the Influencer persona. 100 tabs opened, most in the makeup or beauty area. Now, when I load up pages in Chrome, the ads reflect my new makeup influencer persona. However, this isn’t a permanent change. Sooner or later, the ads will correct themselves as you browse normally.
You can learn more about Track This, cookies and Firefox’s tracking protection over here.