Matt Peperell's Blog

T is for "Tracking"

Written: 23 Apr 2024 (Index by date)

Tags: a-to-z  tech  (Index by tag)

Today’s entry in the A-to-Z of Blogging Challenge is a bit of a rant. The letter is t and the topic is Tracking.

I hinted the other day (when talking about RSS) about my disdain for adverts. Something I dislike equally is the normalisation of site visitor information being collected, and sold on to the highest bidder. It’s this tracking that I’m writing about today.

Often on social network sites there’s a “share” button. These often add a small tracking component. Because many of chat-based apps have link automatic previewers it means that when such a link is shared then the system that the link was sent in (even if different from where the link originated) will issue a request behind the scenes to expand that link. As a result, the site where the link originate will know of the association between the sending party and you the recipient. You typically don’t even have to click on the link for this information to be shared.

For example: is turned into

Every site has its own tracking components. It’s also not the case that any string of numbers or letters on the end of a link is necessarily tracking in nature. It means that the method of cleaning a link will differ on a per-site basis.

To help with this, I’ve written a very simple tool and published it on this site at

If you care about privacy then you can use this tool to clean up a link before sharing it with someone. Note also that if you are comfortable with removing such tracking components yourself, pasting a link into a chat box and then editing it before clicking send is not necessarily sufficient to remove the tracking info - because of the aforementioned automatic link expansion / preview features. You can either do this manually (via a text editor running locally on your machine - not Google docs!) or with this tool.

The current version is very simple, and I intend to improve it over time. It strips out the tracking elements but still links to the desired content.

If you’re a user of a site I’ve not yet taught this tool how to understand, I’d welcome assistance. You can either leave a comment here or instead via Github.

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