How many times do you copy a link that you want to share with others, only to find out — when you paste that link in a message or to a social media post — that the link is 12 miles long and filled with a metric ton of tracking information?
You know what I’m talking about. You have your link, such as www.example.com/story.html. Then you have a ?, which is followed by something that looks like this:
If you were to paste the entire link (including what comes after the ?) you’re adding tracking information. No one wants that. No one needs that.
This plague on user privacy has to be stopped. And now Apple has added a little something in Safari (by way of Sonoma) that removes tracking parameters from URLs to prevent tracking and fingerprinting across websites. That means when you copy and paste a link from one site, a message, or an email, you won’t have to bother removing the tracking content before posting. The link will still work as expected, only without the nasty tracking components.
As far as fingerprinting is concerned, think of it as a collection of information gathered about you that can detect software, network protocols, operating systems, and even devices on a network. Fingerprinting goes much further than traditional tracking and can be used to create a profile of a user.
Let me show you how to enable this feature.
How to remove tracking information in MacOS Safari
What you’ll need: To gain the benefit of advanced tracking and fingerprint protection, you’ll need MacOS Sonoma, which ships with version 17.0 of Safari. You will only find this feature in Safari if you’ve upgraded to Sonoma.
Now, when you copy and paste the URL in question, it will only copy the relevant information and leave out all of the nasty tracking.
The only caveat to this, I have found, is that it doesn’t work 100% of the time. In my testing, some sites are still able to leave the tracking information intact. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the standard operating procedure. As soon as web browser developers come up with a way to thwart privacy invasion, web developers find a way to circumvent those efforts.
Even so, getting rid of tracking information from even a percentage of sites you visit should be considered a win. Sadly, I believe this game of cat and mouse will never end and consumers will continue to find themselves having to go to great lengths to protect their privacy. With companies like Apple doing what they can to help, it’s up to users to go the extra mile and ensure we’re not spreading those tracking strings by deleting everything in a URL that follows the ? character. Do that and you’ll save those you share links with from having their privacy invaded.