In WhatsApp and other instant messaging apps, you must have seen read receipts, which are very useful. Once a recipient reads the message, it is then marked as read. While this functionality might look great if limited to instant messaging apps, it can be trouble on email. In fact, emails these days can be tracked!
Many companies add trackers in their promotional emails to learn whether or not you have viewed their message. This tracking can be done by adding a small image to the message which informs them if the message has been read or not. Apart from that, companies can also learn other detailed information, like the client’s IP address, location, etc. Such information is usually collected and stored by marketing companies, and if you are the one who takes email privacy very seriously, then there’s something that you can do in this situation.
Disable message tracking in Gmail
There are two ways to avoid trackers in Gmail. The first method to do this involves the use of a Chrome extension known as PixelBlock. This extension aims to block email tracking attempts against you. After installing this extension, whenever you open an email, a small red eye icon will be displayed when it blocks a tracking attempt. Clicking on this red eye icon will display how many trackers were blocked, along with the source used for that tracking.
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Another method to block such image-based trackers is to configure Gmail in such a way that it asks you every time before displaying external images. To do this, open Gmail, click on the gear icon and then on Settings > General > Images. From there, select “Ask before displaying external images.” This method is not always 100% foolproof, as Google will still display images automatically for senders it considers safe.
So go ahead and try out these two methods if you really are serious about email privacy. They won’t be able to block all trackers, but at least there is something that you can do.