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Mainstream browsers will soon block IDs in the URL to increase privacy

In the past, we’ve discussed at length how third party data is slowly but surely disappearing. And it looks like we’re taking another step in the right direction. Browsers like Firefox are following in Brave’s footsteps in blocking third parties even further. How? With something called ‘query parameter mitigation’. Here’s what you need to know.

What are query parameters?

When you click a link on platforms like Facebook or Google, they use tracking parameters in their URL. These are meant to collect your data when you’re visiting websites, so advertisers can learn more about your browsing behavior.

Examples of these tracking parameters include the “Facebook Click Identifier” (fbclid), the “Google Click Identifier” (gclid), and Microsoft’s equivalent (msclkid). You can often find these tracking parameters after the question mark in a URL.

Brave to the rescue

In the summer of 2020, privacy-focused browser Brave announced that they would automatically strip any of these tracking parameters from links in their browser. This stripping of the parameter is also called ‘query parameter mitigation’. And it’s a good thing, because it’s a way to stop third parties like Facebook or Google to track your browsing behavior.

And now, Firefox is the first major browser to announce they will do the same. It’s not a default option like in Brave, so users still have to activate it in their settings. We hope and expect that other major browsers will soon follow their example.

Want to try it for yourself?

Use the link below in different browsers. Brave will automatically delete the part after the question mark, while Google Chrome will keep the tracking parameter. If you enable the ‘query parameter stripping’ option in Firefox, it will remove the parameter as well.

Another step towards first-party data

As we’re moving into a more privacy-minded era, tech behemoths like Google and Facebook are using everything they have to collect data on their users. Query parameters are one of the tools tech companies apply in their third-party data strategies.

Blocking features like query parameters are a powerful way to strip them of their tracking instruments. It’s an evolution that makes sense, given that third-party data structures are slowly disappearing. As our faithful readers know, we are big proponents of first-party data strategies like server-side tracking.

This means companies don’t rely on tracking tactics like query parameters, but collect data directly from their users, in full transparency and with their consent. Removing query parameters is another step in the battle against third party data, and proves that the transition to first-party data is the way to go.