Automatically remove tracking tokens from URLs in Chrome, Firefox

Tired of having your Web browsing habits followed all over the Internet? Check out these add-ons for Chrome and Firefox so you can automatically remove the tracking code from links.

Urchin Tracking Modules, or UTMs, are tracking tokens added to URLs. They are a tool used by Google Analytics to help calculate the unique number of clicks on a specific link, navigation choices on a Web site, and how much time is spent looking at it. The namesake comes from Urchin Software, a company Google acquired in 2005. Google Analytics borrows a great deal of its structure and features from Urchin 6.

To get started, you'll just need to install a copy of the respective add-on for your Web browser.

For Chrome:

Head to the Chrome Web Store entry for Tracking Token Stripper. Just as the name says, the UTM tokens will disappear from URLs you click on. After clicking Add to Chrome and pressing OK, make sure to open a new tab and close the old one to ensure that the extension is working.

For Firefox:

Open the Firefox add-on page for Clean Links and press the Add to Firefox button. In the pop-up window, press Install. Just restart your Web browser and the add-on will start working. This add-on seems a little more advanced than the Chrome version, since it also strips affiliate links and other similar tracking tokens.

Note: The add-on description mentions a button on the toolbar for toggling, but it does not seem to appear. I've reported this to the developer.

Now you're all set. You won't have your clicking behavior tracked after looking something up via Google or elsewhere, since the add-ons will strip the tracking tokens.

An unfortunate side effect of using these add-ons is that your favorite Web sites won't be able to track where you spend your time on their site and how often you visit. To circumvent this issue (if you really wanted to), you could disable the add-on -- but that can be a hassle with no quick button toggle on the toolbar.

Do you think UTMs are useful or do they just create more spam for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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