A new version of Ghostery, Ghostery 8, was released yesterday featuring new AI-powered anti-tracking capabilities and enhanced ad-blocking.
Ghostery, which was acquired by German company Cliqz some time ago, is a cross-browser privacy extension that started out as an extension to block tracking predominantly but has since then transformed into a content blocking solution with strong anti-tracking functionality.
The extension is available for all major browsers and can be downloaded from the official website.
Ghostery 8 prompts you to choose between a quick and custom setup. I suggest you select custom, as you can better set the preferences when you do. The extension walks you through a series of screens which you use to enable or disable various features such as ad blocking.
Ghostery 8 comes with a new simple view mode which you may enable. It is designed for users who are not interested in details on individual trackers and other date, and just want a summary of activity instead.
The advanced view is still available, and you can pick it during setup if you select custom setup. There is also an option to switch between both view modes directly in the Ghostery UI.
One of the core new features of Ghostery 8 is the improved anti-tracking protection. Ghostery's parent company Cliqz provided the team with an heuristic add-on for it which may detect trackers that are not caught through the use of traditional blocklists. The new heuristic module is designed to detect trackers in real-time to overwrite "uniquely identifying data points".
Ghostery improved the ad-blocking component of the extension in addition to that by relying on filter lists. Unlike traditional ad-blocking solutions however, options to add custom filter lists to the extension appear to be missing.
The team put a development focus on making Ghostery easier to use. The new simple view mode and simplified setup are two features that came out of that.
The extension's Smart Blocking functionality is another. It is designed to analyze the blocking of trackers to make sure that page's are not broken when trackers are blocked. Ghostery may unblock trackers if it detects that a page is broken if specific trackers are blocked. Advanced users may turn off the feature to remain in full control.
Ghostery 8 comes with other much requested features. Users find a pause button in the interface now that suspends the extension for a set period of time.
There has been quite a bit of controversy surround Ghostery and Cliqz in the past. You may want to turn off any data collecting -- if enabled -- in the extension's preferences right after installation. If you use custom setup, you can disable that right away though.
The extension itself seems to work really well in regards to tracker and advertisement blocking. Its focus on trackers makes it somewhat unique in the ad-blocking realm, not because of the blocking but because of the focus on trackers in its interface.
You have to decide for yourself if that is enough to give it a try, or even switch to Ghostery.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.