Google has more cross-site trackers than other popular websites

Google search on a laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Thaspol Sangsee)
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Google has the most cross-site trackers of any tech giant according to a new study from the cloud storage (opens in new tab) provider pCloud (opens in new tab).

When you use your browser (opens in new tab) to go from website to website, cross-site trackers follow you and collect data on where you've been and what you've done. While this can be helpful for creating more personalized experiences online, third parties can also use cookies and trackers to collect data without a user's permission.

After Google recently revealed that it had delayed its plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, pCloud used the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (opens in new tab) (ITP) feature in Safari (opens in new tab) to collect data on the number of trackers blocked on 88 different websites as well as the number of trackers each company has across all websites to compile its new "The Web's Most Invasive Cookies (opens in new tab)" study.

When it came to the number of times a company's tracker was seen on other websites, Google took the top spot with 262 followed by Facebook with 107 and Adobe with 69. Twitter and Microsoft took the fourth and fifth spots respectively and a number of other big brands including SnapChat, Verizon Media, Oracle, AppNexus, Akamai, Salesforce, LinkedIn and Amazon also appeared on pCloud's list.

Cross-site trackers

Google owns a total of seven cross-site trackers and pCloud found that they were seen 262 times across the 88 websites analyzed by its study.

Of the search giant's cross-site trackers, the most prevalent is doubleclick.net which was found on 70 websites and is used by online advertisers and publishers to display ads on their websites. This tracker also allows advertisers and publishers to see what sections of their sites users view so that they can deliver more personalized ads.

Facebook came in second place and its trackers were found and blocked 107 times across the 88 websites analyzed by pCloud. Some of the popular websites that contain the social media giant's trackers include Barclays, Booking.com, Instagram and Bumble.

While Twitter came in fifth place, its cookies hold user data for an average of 41 days and some of its trackers include Twitter.com and Ads-Twitter. These trackers were seen across the 88 websites analyzed 44 times and some of the websites that use them include Shopify, Ocado and HSBC.

As businesses have begun using cross-site trackers to deliver more personalized experiences (opens in new tab) for their customers, they likely won't be going away anytime soon. However, by using a VPN (opens in new tab) service and an anonymous browser (opens in new tab) while online, you can limit their ability to collect data on your browsing habits.

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.