How To Stop Targeted Ads From Stalking You Online

Helpful tips for shaking off those annoying—and ominous—Internet tracking ads.

UK porn block
The U.K. porn block goes into effect on July 15
(Getty Images)

Online re-targeting ads are growing ever more ubiquitous—and persistent.  Briefly research one item, like a new wristwatch, and suddenly watch advertisements pop up everywhere you go on the web: your Facebook feed, Instagram, even websites that have nothing to do with watches. The New York Times dubs them “stalker ads.” And they are a symptom of how online advertising is becoming ever more invasive and aggressive.

Tracking technologies like web cookies are collecting information from nearly every site you visit—many webpages have multiple, sometimes dozens of cookies embedded in them. Then marketers and ad tech companies compile that data to target you across your devices. Trackers are now so advanced that they can even tell if you decided to hold off on a purchase, and so they send ads to chase you around until you buy.

On top of being really annoying, these ads raise privacy concerns. But the New York Times offers a few ways to get rid of them. Here are a few easy steps:

— Periodically clear your cookies: You have to do this on each of your devices.

— Reset your advertising ID: Android and Apple phones use so-called advertising IDs to help marketers track you. You can reset it whenever you want.

— Periodically purge your Google ad history: Go to

— Hide the annoying ad, if you can. Some websites have a tiny “x” button in the top right corner that you can click to close it.

And if you want to go all out, you can install an ad blocker, use a private or incognito browser, install a tracker blocker, and opt out of interest-based advertising.

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