Web beacon

A web beacon[note 1] is a technique used on web pages and email to unobtrusively (usually invisibly) allow checking that a user has accessed some content.[1] Web beacons are typically used by third parties to monitor the activity of users at a website for the purpose of web analytics or page tagging.[2] They can also be used for email tracking.[3] When implemented using JavaScript, they may be called JavaScript tags.[4]

Using such beacons, companies and organizations can track the online behaviour of web users. At first, the companies doing such tracking were mainly advertisers or web analytics companies; later social media sites also started to use such tracking techniques, for instance through the use of buttons that act as tracking beacons.

In 2017, W3C published a candidate specification for an interface that web developers can use to create web beacons.[5]

An innocuous web beacon referencing a file on Wikimedia Commons

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  1. ^ Stefanie Olsen (January 2, 2002). "Nearly undetectable tracking device raises concern". CNET News. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Richard M. Smith (November 11, 1999). "The Web Bug FAQ". EFF.org Privacy Archive. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  3. ^ Richard Lowe Jr And Claudia Arevalo-Lowe. "Email web bug invisible tracker collects info without permission". mailsbroadcast.com. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  4. ^ Negrino, Tom; Smith, Dori. JavaScript para World Wide Web. Pearson Education, 2001. accessed 1 October 2015
  5. ^ Jatinder Mann; Alois Reitbauer (April 13, 2017). "Beacon". W3C Candidate Recommendation. W3C. Retrieved November 7, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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