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29 September 2020

Blacklight is "a real-time Web site privacy inspector" by Surya Mattu. Type in a URL in its search field and Blacklight will scan the site for user-tracking technologies, reporting the results in about 30 seconds.

We couldn't resist seeing how Photo Corners scored on the scan. We have always protected your privacy here, as our tracking policy makes clear.


Photo Corners loads very quickly, so it took very little time to scan the site. A few seconds after we entered the URL, we got a quick report noting:

  • Two ad trackers on the site, which is less than half of the average seven. That's a puzzle because Google Adsense is the only ad tracker on the site, although it appears twice. Our own house ads do not track anything.
  • One third party cookie found, which must have been our check for subscribers so they can avoid ads on the site.
  • No cookie blocking trackers.
  • No session recording.
  • Keystrokes are not captured.
  • Facebook Pixel, which sends data to Facebook, not found.
  • Google Analytics' "remarketing audiences," which provides advertisers with traffic information, not found.


Just for the sake of comparison we tried a few other URLs:

  •, interestingly enough, captures your keystrokes.
  • Petapixel uses 20 ad trackers and 11 third-party cookies, monitors both keystrokes and mouse clicks and allows Google Analytics to follow you across the Internet.
  • Fstoppers uses 22 ad trackers and 25 third-party cookies. When you visit the site, it tells Facebook and Google Analytics follows you across the Internet.
  • Shutterbug uses 6 ad trackers and 8 third-party cookies and allows Google Analytics to follow you.
  • Pop Photo uses 9 ad trackers and 8 third-party cookies. It tells Facebook you visited and allows Google Analytics to follow you.


In a blog post the site explains how its tool works:

Blacklight works by visiting each Web site with a headless browser, running custom software built by The Markup. This software monitors which scripts on that Web site are potentially surveilling the user by performing seven different tests, each investigating a specific, known method of surveillance.

The Markup describes itself as a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change society. "We are a new kind of media organization, staffed with an unparalleled roster of quantitative journalists who pursue meaningful, data-driven investigations."

How does it do on the scan?

As you might expect, it is, in its own words, "totally clean," using no ad trackers, third-party cookies or anything else.

"You have scanned the website for The Markup, the nonprofit news organization that built the very tool you are using to scan our website," it notes.

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