Things you should know before using Sitemeter 92

It’s so sad for me to hear that SiteMeter, a well-known web stats providers, is pushing specificclick tracking and advertising cookies on to visitors of sites using their service. (You may already heard about this since it was happened last month.) For me, that news is pretty new. Actually, I came to know about this when I read this post in WordPress Support Forum.

When it was started?

Actually, nobody noticed about specificclick tracking or cookies of SiteMeter before StatCounter published this post “StatCounter Says NO!” as below in their Official blog on March 25, 2007.

A few months back, StatCounter was approached by an advertiser, offered lots of $$$, and asked to include a spyware cookie on all of our member sites…we refused on the spot.

You install StatCounter to track visitors to your site NOT to open yourself and your visitors up to being spied upon by phantom advertising corporations.

It appears, however, that other players in the world of webstats were happy to take up this offer…

We were shocked to discover just today that another well known stats provider is allowing up to 9 cookies to be installed in the browser of every visitor that hits one of their member websites. This means that the provider is making money by transmitting data on you and your visitors to a third party advertiser. Not only that, but to add insult to injury, the cookies are causing the member websites to load very slowly too.

But StatCounter didn’t mention the exact name of web stats provider.

Sitemeter?

Eric Odom came up with this post as below after doing some reaseaches on different stat trackers.

I use several different stat trackers on all of my sites and blogs, so naturally, I went on a frantic hunt to figure out who had sold out.

In comes Sitemeter…

I have indeed been able to confirm, on two of my own sites, that Sitemeter is sending specificclick cookies onto websites hosting the counter. I immediately removed the counter and now have all of my sites using StatCounter or Google Analytics.

Sitemeter has gone silent today. Not a peep has been mentioned on their blog, and so far my e-mail has not been responded to.

I certainly hope Sitemeter will confront this, bail out on the spam advertiser, and get back on track. If not, users will be sure there is hell to pay.

So yes, it has been confirmed, Sitemeter has apparently sold out to Spyware.

What a shame.

UPDATE: A Digger just e-mailed me the following information.

The parent company of specificclick.net is Specific Media. This was originally spotted by a Digger who noticed the Specific Media logo on the specificclick homepage, which oddly enough, has vanished from the web.

Another interesting tidbit as pointed out on Digg is that at the time of posting this, Sitemeter has NOT YET updated its privacy policy to reflect the deal they did with Specific Media.

I believe that there are a lot of people who are really disappointed with Sitemeter. I wonder how come Sitemeter wanna do like that. Money is an issue? I think, Money should not be an issue for them since they have really nice and popular service and they also have a lot of paid users. Anyway, they are gonna lost a lot of both free users or paid users because of that.

Sitemeter didn’t say anything?

No. Here is the reply from SiteMeter.

Hello,

Thanks for your email.

The cookie you are seeing is from a trusted partner who we are working with to provide more intelligence to you about your visitors. In the past few days we’ve begun beta testing this cookie.

Over the next few months we will be rolling out enhancements to our service that will offer you more information about your users like their other content interests and demographics (a la Quantcast). In addition this cookie will allow us to offer other new useful features in the future, including tracking Unique Visitors, Heat Mapping etc.

We believe that this new information along with our current services we already provide will be of great benefit to our users. Keep watching our page for announcements regarding these upgrades and changes. We would also ask that you use discretion in sharing this information. We are trying not to show our hand to our competitors.

If you would rather not participate in this process we can offer you a couple options -

1 – If you replace your current Java code with the standard HTML Sitemeter code the cookie will no longer be issued.
2 – We can move you to a new server that will be restricted from the cookie process.

If you would like to move to the restricted server please let us know and we will create a new FREE upgraded account for you. We won’t be able to transfer any historical data, but you will still be able to log into your old account and view your old account stats.

Thanks,
The Sitemeter Team

Even thought they replied like that, there are a lot of people who stopped using their service.

Debbie’s Blatherings said that ~

Even if Sitemeter somehow manages to pull itself out of this mess, I have chosen to remove Sitemeter from my blogs because:

1. That little multi-coloured logo is no longer going to be a relatively neutral addition to sites; many are going to associate it with spyware, and may actively avoid sites that display it.

2. I no longer trust the company.

Update:You don’t believe Sitemeter did like that?

Okay. Let me show you one thing. Please follow the steps below. (Note: if you are gonna remove all cookies in your browser then some of websites won’t remember you so that you have to log-in again to your account.)

  1. Open your browser (I used Firefox 2.0.0.3 in this demostration)
  2. Remove All Cookies (Tools>Options>Privacy>Show Cookies>Remove All Cookies)
  3. Browse this page “Web 3.0: When Web Sites Become Web Services” (Note: This site is using sitemeter stat counter until now (April 4th, 2007. 10:54 AM <TimeZone: (GMT + 06:30)> ))
  4. Wait til the time loading is completed
  5. then, check the Cookies again (Tools>Options>Privacy>Show Cookies>) (Observe: you will see specificclick.net in Cookie List as the screenshot below.)

specficclick - Sitemeter Problems

Note: I have tested those steps above and capture the screenshot on April 4th, 2007. 10:54 AM <TimeZone: (GMT + 06:30)>

Future Plan

Okay. It happened already. So, lets discuss about what things we should do next.

As a lot of people are using Sitemeter for so long, I’m sure that those cookies has been installed in our browsers. So, we should start cleaning all cookies in our browser(s) . (Note: if you are gonna clear all cookies then some of websites won’t remember you so that you have to log-in again to your account.)

1. How to clear cookies in Firefox 2.0.0.3

  1. Go to Tools -> Options
  2. Go to Privacy tab on Options dialog
  3. Click “Show Cookies” button
  4. Click “Remove All Cookies” button in “Cookie” dialog ( if you wanna remove all cookies )

If you are not Firefox user, please read here.

2. How to block Specificclick tacking cookies (Thanks to the author of this post.)

  1. Open the “Tools” menu.
  2. Select “Options”.
  3. Select the “Privacy” tab to open sub-menu.
  4. Click “Show cookies”.
  5. In the search box provided type in Specificclick to narrow down your results.
  6. Remove all cookies that remaining by selecting them and clicking “Remove Cookie”.
  7. Click “Close”
  8. Click “Exceptions”.
  9. Type specificclick.net under Address of website:
  10. Click “Block”
  11. Type adopt.specificclick.net under Address of website Update
  12. Click “Block”
  13. Close all remaining Dialog boxes.

If you are not a fun of firebox, you may read the instruction of other browsers here.

3. Which stats provider should I use instead of Sitemeter?

Google Analytics : Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. Focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors. (Plus. Integrated with AdWords.)

StatCounter offers free and paid stat tracker service. They also support an invisible web tracker for free users and paid users.

4. How to verify whether a particular web tracker is safe to use?

  1. Open your browser
  2. Clear your cookies in your browser
  3. Browse your site that is using web tracker

You should see any other cookies except the one that you use (eg: statcounter) .

Conclusion

One thing that I learn from this is that we should not just so happy if we got something as free. We should check whether those free stuffs are safe to use or not. And we all should know that there might be something behind those free stuffs.

Another thing that I learn is that don’t do it if you don’t want other people to know. cuz Internet is too small to hide.

References ~

92 thoughts on “Things you should know before using Sitemeter

  1. Reply Lesley Jul 20,2007 6:23 am

    This is useful to know. I stumbled across this web site inadvertently while doing a search on problems with sitemeter javascript. All of a sudden a couple of days ago my sitemeter icon wasn’t displaying and the link would no longer work. I emailed sitemeter and got no response.

    I’ve decided to dump sitemeter and go with statcounter. They provide better data than sitemeter anyway, and I like how they allow you to have more than one “project” without having to create multiple accounts.

  2. Reply nonhocapito Aug 30,2007 12:03 am

    Google Analytics is not a serious alternative to anything if you are at least a little concerned with privacy issues and spying on your personal habits.

    GA will require you to accept the Goggle cookie in order to not be tracked as a visitor to your own websites, and everything else will come down from that: spying on what you search for, connected to what you blog or email or read or write etc–
    To be a grown-up Internet user and kill every single Google cookie is the main thing (customize-google and a cookie-handling extension for firefox are a good choice for that)

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  5. Reply Born Free Oct 5,2007 3:31 am

    Rule Number One: Never trust any company with your privacy

    Rule Number Two: ESPECIALLY never trust any technology company with your privacy

  6. Reply jen elslager Oct 7,2007 2:20 am

    I’ve been using statcounter for some time now, and in recent weeks, I can’t even get on the site at all. I tried your link, and no go.

    Anyone know what’s causing this?

  7. Reply Michael Sync Oct 8,2007 1:34 am

    >>, I can’t even get on the site at all.
    Why? You just need to create the project on statcounter site. it will generate the counter based on your requirement… then, you just need to place those code on your site… that’s all…

    >>I tried your link, and no go.
    Which link are you trying? try this link http://statcounter.com/

    If you are some problems in using their service, please contact with support…

    Hope it helps..

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  11. Reply Dianna Jan 28,2008 11:07 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide us with this valuable information. You are brave to speak out like this!

  12. Reply Jyoti Feb 3,2008 12:14 am

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the info Michael. I found this really late.. but I’m so glad I found you. This article has been an eye opener. I have site meter on my account and never imagined this!

    Have followed your instructions to blocking the cookies.

    Thanks Again.

    Cheers!

  13. Reply hillord Feb 10,2008 5:53 pm

    man, i found your site a little too late. i love sitemeter but after reading and verify this, i found the specific media cookies. damn.. i’m kicking sitemeter out of http://www.photogiga.com

    thanks again!

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  15. Reply Divee Cumbersand Mar 22,2008 8:05 am

    This article is a total waste of time for the 85% of people who use IE. The 15% who use Firefox will no doubt find it very useful. What’s with the attitude of being elitist when you could be helpful?

  16. Reply Michael Sync Mar 22,2008 11:20 am

    This article is a total waste of time for the 85% of people who use IE.

    Hi,

    What do you mean by this? Are you spamming us or something? Because what you said doesn’t make sense or is nothing related to this article.. Can you elaborate a lit bit more on that? Why do you think that this article is a total waste of time for 85% of IE users.

  17. Reply dx-xel Mar 25,2008 6:04 pm

    hi Michael,

    Actually today I was trying to login into sitemeter and guess what, it was loading extra slow.

    I look into my firefox status bar and its loading the annoying specificclick.net!

    Thanks for your tips. Now I can browse the sitemeter website much faster. :)

    And also, I added *.specificclick.net to the address of website. The * will match all subdomain from specificclick.net and block the cookies as well…

  18. Reply dx-xel Mar 25,2008 6:17 pm

    And erm..one more thing, I also have installed Adblock Plus extension in Firefox..hehe. Hope no more annoying ads+cookies next time.

  19. Reply Michael Sync Mar 27,2008 9:30 am

    Hey dx-xel,

    Yes.. Adblock Plus ext is pretty good. I’m also using it too.

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  21. Reply Sam May 18,2008 1:49 pm

    Just stumbled upon this today… I’m not sure what the big deal is? Advertising makes the internet work… that is unless you want to pay for all that content you consume for free right now. I was doing some research and the cookies don’t seem to contain any personal information. Based on what I’ve found out, it seems Specific Media only advertises on big-name premium sites, and they don’t do popups or anything. It’s not like they’re serving ads on your site or anything and they have an opt out option.

  22. Reply Michael Sync May 18,2008 10:15 pm

    >>I’m not sure what the big deal is?

    I’m not sure why the ads company give a lot of $$ if it’s not big deal.. I don’t think those ads companies just want to donate to SiteMeter… :)

    Advertising makes the internet work… that is unless you want to pay for all that content you consume for free right now.

    Agreed

    I was doing some research and the cookies don’t seem to contain any personal information

    Can you give me the details about that? How did you do some researches and how can you make sure that they don’t track any personal information? I believe that they will track which site we are visiting at least.. if they don’t track any personal info, what did they track? It would be great if you can give me more information about that..

    It’s not like they’re serving ads on your site

    Yes. I know.. I was not talking about serving ads.. we are talking about putting tracking cookies in our browsers..

    Mainly, there are two things that I dont like about SiteMeter …

    1) Why didn’t Sitemeter reply about that officially? in their blog or etc

    2) Why didn’t they let the user know about that before pointing this issue by StatsCounter? If we know about that beforehand, those cookies might not be an issue for some users..

  23. Reply Tes Jun 3,2008 11:31 am

    Just saw this post. I understand the previous poster, but I disagree.
    Google Analytics holds 40% of the market. I am way more afraid of them using my data. Just look how expensive PPC advertising got.

  24. Reply harmonyinfotech Aug 18,2008 9:27 am

    One of my client site is having problem. When checking it in firefox 3 I am getting the message that google-analytizs.org has been blocked or something like that.

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  26. Reply stay quinton Nov 11,2008 8:09 am

    I use a program called SecuredPrivacy to remove cookies that make trouble for my computer.

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  28. Reply Aleks Aug 22,2009 2:18 pm

    Thanks for useful article. It s about free sitemeter, or premium too?

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  33. Reply indrajidzone Dec 8,2010 5:21 am

    Damn!! As I though before.. I’ll remove sitemeter codes..

    thanks pals..

  34. Reply dea Jan 11,2011 5:31 am

    OMG.. I just only going to put sitemeter on my site… lucky I visit u first..

  35. Reply IT Rush Apr 15,2011 8:09 am

    Hmm.. lesson learned. Thanks.

  36. Reply IT Rush Apr 24,2011 7:50 am

    Ah.. just in time.. Thanks for this very timely information.

  37. Reply ST from babystrollers Jul 10,2011 6:19 pm

    I’ve used sitemeter for years. Maybe its time to change.

  38. Reply natasha.william9211@gmail.com Sep 7,2011 11:06 pm

    Such a great information by you on this topic. I want to learn more about it. It seems like very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Please keep posting.

  39. Reply mandy Oct 16,2011 9:26 am

    For someone who’s not tech savvy, can you give me step by step instructions on how to remove Sitemeter. I notice there are no instructions for doing so on THEIR site. Thanks very much.

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  41. Reply Steve Jackson Aug 5,2012 6:09 pm

    The site’s down… again. For last 3 months or so, it has been giving me erroneous referral IP address (2 to be exact). It has made it look like all my hits were coming from two addresses, so I thought they may be bots — but all my hits. I use another service (blog plugin) that showed my hits were indeed coming from all over and that SiteMeter is hosed. Moving to another counter.

  42. Reply ida Feb 14,2013 7:42 am

    hmm, so this what has been going on under the hood. But can this story be actually true?

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