The High Privacy Cost of a “Free” Website – The Markup

This is a good read to know the technical details of how users are being tracked on webpages.

Important part is how these trackers can be dangerous for people from LGBTQ+ community, domestic violence etc. who would like to keep their identity secret while seeking help online.


I don’t think the problem is limited to the free sites. As researcher Anand Sir pointed out, some like ET Prime have loads of trackers and third-party cookies embedded without after subscription money.

Plus, it is well established that if you aren’t paying you are the product, but if you have paid, even that doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t the product. xD

The article is not about free sites, but about free services being integrated to those sites.

For example, integrating free version of disqus for comments adds trackers to the site that even the owner is unaware of. Another is Oracle’s AddThis which integrates social media sharing options but sends data to Oracle even if nothing is shared. Similarly integrating payment services can add trackers.

What is worrying is that even the website creator might not know about these trackers and hence, cannot disclose this to the users.

Yes. this is well established, but how many people actually know about this or actually understand what this means?