This morning, I read an interesting post by Don Williamson about how he removed Disqus comments from his site and moved to hosting his comments on GitHub, using some very creative hacks. Learning about the hacks he used is pretty fun, but I actually found his exploration of Disqus and its aggressive tracking more interesting. On the impact of performance on his site from using Disqus, Don pointed out:
Load-time goes from 6 seconds to 2 seconds.
There are 105 network requests vs. 16.
There are a lot of non-relevant requests going through to networks that will be tracking your movements.
He then goes into detail listing all of the ad networks and trackers that are pulled into a site when Disqus is enabled, and its terrifying:
disqus.com - Obviously!
google-analytics.com - Multiple requests; no idea who’s capturing your movements.
connect.facebook.net - If you’re logged into Facebook, they know you visit this site.
accounts.google.com - Google will also map your visits to this site with any of your Google accounts.
pippio.com - LiveRamp identify mapping for harvesting your details for commercial gain.
bluekai.com - Identity tracking for marketing campaigns.
crwdcntrl.net - Pretty suspect site listed as referenced by viruses and spyware.
exelator.com - More identity and movement tracking site which even has a virus named after it!
doubleclick.net - We all know this one: ad services and movement tracking, owned by Google.
tag.apxlv.net - Very shady and tricky to pin-point an owner as they obsfuscate their domain (I didn’t even know this was a thing!). Adds a tracking pixel to your site.
adnxs.com - More tracking garbage, albeit slightly more prolific.
adsymptotic.com - Advertising and tracking that suppposedly uses machine learning.
rlcdn.com - Obsfuscated advertising/tracking from Rapleaf.
adbrn.com - “Deliver a personalized customer journey across devices, channels and platforms with Adbrain customer ID mapping technology.”
nexac.com - Oracle’s Datalogix, their own tracking and behavioural pattern rubbish.
tapad.com - OK, I cant’t be bothered to search to look this up anymore.
liadm.com - More? Oh, ok, then…
sohern.com - Yup. Tracking.
demdex.net - Tracking. From Adobe.
bidswitch.net - I’ll give you one guess…
agkn.com - …
mathtag.com - Curious name, maybe it’s… no. It’s tracking you.
Comments and comment spam are hard. But, that doesn't mean we should turn over control of our interactions to companies that choose to leverage your audience and your data for their own profit. Own your interactions!