Ghostery is a browser plugin available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera and it dramatically speeds up the web. Ok, that’s not the goal of Ghostery, but it’s a major benefit. Ghostery blocks calls to web servers that it knows are ad or tracking networks. Some would call it an ad-blocker. I call it a drain unclogger. It prevents Web pages from making additional calls out to known bad actors. It prevents a Web site from hijacking your own browser to track you.
Let’s just take one notorious site. This is what Ghostery blocks on The Verge landing page. On THE LANDING PAGE.
The landing page of The Verge is just a navigation portal and yet a minimum of 12 tracking sites are called for every one visit.
It’s pretty simple to fine tune when and what Ghostery blocks but I mostly leave everything blocked. But it’s stunning how immediate the benefit is. Websites, look right. They load almost instantly. There’s no more animated ads jumping across the screen. It’s like the web we dream of.
The Ghostery database covers most of the offenders in the tracking and malicious abuser networks. If you really want Adobe TypeKit to be allowed, then it’s simple to whitelist it for every site. You can also tune blocking to certain types of networks or whitelist entire sites.
I’ve found very few sites that did not look and act better with blocking turned on. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this. What was once a mutually beneficial relationship has now become one-sided abuse. Sure, stealing my bandwidth has been an easy and lucrative business model. But perhaps they can hire some smarter people to figure out less exploitive methods for turning a buck. When I said you could put a small sign in my yard, I never guessed you’d put a billboard in my driveway.
The downside: While there’s an iOS app, there’s no browser plugin for mobile safari. You know something is pretty good when the downside is that you can’t use it more.
So, what’s the catch? How does Ghostery make any money? That’s the other part I like. It’s pretty clear (as in plain english) in their FAQ. It’s also completely opt-in.