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Tracking the reading time of a user that's reading a page from Medium.com in Firefox

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Hi, If you are not familiar with Medium.com, this site claims to track the reading time of a subscriber/reader when they read an article from Medium through a browser. This question is very important because the author of the article gets paid based on that person's reading time.

Given Firefox's privacy initiatives, I was wondering if Medium can in fact track a reader's reading time if the reader is using Firefox to view the site in a Private Window or tab? Does it matter if the reader blocks all the site's cookies with a cookie blocker?

Peter

Hi, If you are not familiar with [https://medium.com Medium.com], this site claims to track the reading time of a subscriber/reader when they read an article from Medium through a browser. This question is very important because the author of the article gets paid based on that person's reading time. Given Firefox's privacy initiatives, I was wondering if Medium can in fact track a reader's reading time if the reader is using Firefox to view the site in a Private Window or tab? Does it matter if the reader blocks all the site's cookies with a cookie blocker? Peter

Toutes les réponses (9)

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Hello,

Medium's tracking will work in private mode. It will also likely work without cookies. This is because private mode is not really different from normal mode.

If you are looking to disable the tracking, you may need to completely disable javascript from running.

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Running Firefox in Private Mode means everything is stored in temporary storage (nothing is recorded). When the browser closes, the temp data is removed.


Private Browsing - Use Firefox without saving history

Firefox Private Browsing is great for viewing websites without saving things like cookies, temp files, and a history of the pages you visit.

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/common-myths-about-private-browsing

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Go to the Mozilla Add-ons Web Page {web Link} (There’s a lot of good stuff here) and search for something that can block trackers.

Some protection programs also have this feature.

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Hi Folks,

I'm not interested in blocking Medium from tracking me. In fact I want to know the opposite. I want them to be able to track my (and anyone else's) reading time.

I was worried that users might block their tracking ability by turn on private browsing.

I I understand what others have said, Medium can be blocked but users have to install various blockers to do that.

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As you know, Enhanced Tracking Protection blocks tracking content based on lists of known third party tracking servers. Therefore, if Medium hosts its monitoring script on a server known for tracking, "Standard" ETP would allow the script in regular windows and block it in private windows ("Strict" blocks in both regular and private). However, if Medium loads the script from its own site (same as the server in the address bar), then ETP should not block it because most likely Medium's main server isn't on that list (or the site wouldn't work properly).

When you are on the page, you can click the shield icon at the left end of the address bar to see what is being allowed and what is being blocked. But I'm not sure you can sort out exactly which script is doing the monitoring...

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Hi jscher,

Thanks for the advise and what you've said makes a lot of sense.

Clicking on the shield as you suggest shows that only two sites: branch.io and google-analytics.com both are blocked.

I've added a screenshot of the shield (on Safari) but it'll be the same for Firefox. I've tried looking at the scripts but it's hard to decipher as the site uses a lot of Java scripts to layout the site.

If I'm not mistaken, the important takeaway from this is, if any user accesses the Medium site in a "Private" window or tab effectively blocks the site's ability to monitor the user's reading time.

This has huge ramifications for Medium and its users. Without the ability for the site to monitor reading times, the authors writing for the site won't get paid! That's terrible.

Peter

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retepoh said

If I'm not mistaken, the important takeaway from this is, if any user accesses the Medium site in a "Private" window or tab effectively blocks the site's ability to monitor the user's reading time.

I don't think you can conclude that. When I load a story in a private window and watch the Network Monitor (with the filter batch), the page sends a stream of data back to the site each time I scroll the page, and sometimes when I don't think I'm doing anything special. Example screenshot attached. Is that the data you're concerned about?

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Hi jscher,

That screenshot was very helpful. I'll have to take a closer look when I have some time tomorrow.

In principle, that's what I'm looking at. The ability for the webpage to send back information about the reader's scrolling habit when viewing an article.

Do you do that in a Private window/tab?

Peter

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Hi Peter, yes, the purple mask badge is there.