How Email Trackers Are Watching People's Inboxes, And How To Block Them

While most online communications have shifted to social media networks and messaging platforms, a lot of people still use emails.

If compared to its younger counterparts, emails can be considered a relic from the past. But still, emails do have a number of advantages.

For example, it allows both parties to communicate more formally. Oppose to when people talk through social media networks or messaging apps, where things are more casual, lots of people use email for business purposes.

Another advantage of using emails, is the ability for marketers to track their recipients.

Marketers can mass-email potential buyers using obnoxious marketing emails that crowd people's inboxes. And the trackers are used to know when the recipients opened the email.

One of the methods, is by using a technique called the pixel tracking.

Email spying

Originally, trackers on emails are meant to know when the recipients open their emails. Also dubbed the 'read receipt'.

But things can go beyond just that.

Through pixel tracking, senders of the emails can know how many times the recipients open a message, the time of day the message is opened, how long the message is opened, and even the location the recipients are at the moment.

Another way of saying this, the act of reading email can send an amount of data back to the sender, even if the recipient never responded.

To make this possible, pixel tracking adds an invisible 1 x 1 pixel image inside the email.

It's this little, tiny image that quietly tracks people, as soon as the image is loaded from the server, when the email is opened.

Besides the ability to show exactly when the recipients open the emails, the trackers also allow the sender to know whether or not the recipients click on any links in the email.

While this kind of tracker is very common, that doesn't mean that it is any less creepy, or a privacy violation.

For those who wish to get rid of those trackers on their emails, they can do that very easily.

There are a number of ways people can do to block email tracking without having to ignore emails entirely.

One of the most straightforward ways to prevent email tracking software from working, is to simply block images from displaying by default.

This is a setting people can enable in just about every email service.

By blocking images from loading, that tiny 1 x 1 pixel image won't be loaded either, meaning that the tracker won't work.

It should be noted that blocking images from loading by default, means that whenever people want to open an image, it requires an extra click to make that happen.

If people use their browsers to open their emails, they may want to download dedicated extensions to alert them of the presence of possible trackers in their inboxes.

There are many browser extensions people can use that can help then identify the emails that secretly use trackers, and will automatically block those trackers for them. However, people should be cautious when using them, because the extensions may require access to their inboxes, meaning that they may or may not be able to scan emails.

To limit online tracking, people may be better off using ad blockers and script blocker extensions.

Mass email

Marketers go to great lengths, placing trackers to track people, for good reasons.

Most companies that want to sell their products and services, are eager to find out how their targeted audiences are responding to their marketing efforts, by analyzing their behavior.

Email tracking is very basic, but a very effective tool of surveillance that has taken over most email inboxes.

Fortunately, these trackers won't steal any sensitive data. But unfortunately, lots of marketers are using tackers outside their original intentions.

This is why some privacy-concerned individuals may not like being tracked at all.

And the easiest way to prevent these trackers from ever working, is to just block them from running.

What people should also know is that, blocking pixel tracking or by using extensions, may not ward off all trackers. But still, these should take care most of them.