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Web beacon

(also web bug, pixel tag)

Web beacon definition

Web beacons are tracking technologies that gather information about visitors to websites. They are usually invisible and used to monitor website traffic and the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. Web beacons can also track visitor behavior, such as the pages they view and the links they click.

Website owners or third-party companies hired by them typically place web beacons on websites to track traffic and deliver email campaigns. Email messages can also embed web beacons.

When a web beacon loads on a website or in an email, it sends data back to the website owner or the third-party company. The web beacon may load the visitor's IP address, the time and date of loading, and the specific page or email where it loads.

Consequently, web beacons impose several privacy-related hazards, including privacy infringement, personal information collection, unsolicited advertising, and security risks.

See also: tracking cookie, tracking pixel

Web beacon purposes

  • Track website traffic and user behavior.
  • Monitor the click-through rates of email campaigns.
  • Personalize user experience based on gathered data.
  • Serve targeted ads to users.
  • Verify online ad display and performance.
  • Support website security measures.

Reducing web beacon tracking

  • Enable “Do not track“ in your browser.
  • Employ anti-tracking software.
  • Be cautious about the websites you visit.
  • Use privacy-focused browsers.
  • Disable auto-loading images in your browser.
  • Regularly clear cookies.
  • Use script blockers.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).