27

The company has recently announced a change to its advertising practices: they plan to allow the use of tracking pixels by select advertisers. I am under the impression that this is merely formalising (and better-regulating) existing practices, but I'm not actually sure if my assumptions are correct.

  • Will the new, limited tracking wholly replace the ad-hoc tracking that advertisers have been doing so far, restricting it only to advertisers on your approved list?

    And just confirmed that the Google ads can still perform additional tracking, by observing one sending a fingerprint to Oracle. I am sympathetic to the use of Google ads, since, you know, money – but there's got to be another way. And even if there's not, that's no reason for the other stuff, like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google's JS CDN (when you have your own, in-house, one), and the Google equivalent of that "Facebook profile pictures leaks data to Facebook" issue […] — wizzwizz4 2023-02-16 08:40:52Z

    Or is this additional tracking on top of that?

  • Will this change invalidate the consent granted by existing users, requiring them to re-consent?

    Since you're changing what you're asking permission for, it should. The change should not invalidate the withholding of consent, though: please don't just re-display the box for everyone.

    Saying yes to something doesn’t mean saying yes to everything — Consent Is / Is Not

    Asking for consent until “no” becomes “yes” is not enthusiastic consent – asking once should be enough. Respect the answer you get. — Confused by consent?

    (I hope it's less patronising to provide this guidance pre-emptively. I'm giving it because I really don't know what guidance the company's been given, and I'm aware that the advertising industry has rather abusive and self-serving ideas about various things.)

  • Do you plan on informing all users about the data sharing, the same way you inform those in GDPR jurisdictions?

    I appreciate that you've featured the announcement across the network, but most of us won't know to read that. I'll also note that users may be using VPNs, or otherwise spoofing your location, and your obligations under GDPR still apply to them if they are physically located within the EU (or other applicable territories), so you kinda can't rely on auto-detection at all. Don't listen to the “GDPR-compliant solutions” industry on this one, if they tell you otherwise: they're notorious for selling snake oil, and have provided you with non-compliant “solutions” before.


P.S.: I don't think people should have to worry about all this. For readers who find it dull and wish to just be rid of it, I advise installing the Consent-O-Matic (ff) browser extension, which lets you set-and-forget your consent settings for every website at once. I would be remiss not to mention uBlock Origin (ff, deb) as well: it handles common malware vectors, unapproved client-side tracking attempts, and some fallout of the browser wars… though please consider allowing the ads on Stack Exchange. They must really need the money, even if they still eschew the Wikipedia funding model.

2
  • 10
    "They must really need the money"... Well, do you know that feeling you get when you want to make an one-time donation to some charity entity because you have extra money NOW and they reply that you have to subscribe to a $$/month plan instead because it is easier for them so in the end you just walk away? This is exactly why even the few that still enabled ads on the network will probably now block them. Also known as "give them an inch and they'll take a mile". No, thanks.
    – SPArcheon
    Dec 14, 2023 at 10:31
  • 6
    If they can’t make money with ads, they will have to find a healthier alternative. I am blocking all ‘targeted’ ads everywhere not just to protect myself, but to help wean companies off of a toxic monetization model.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 14, 2023 at 12:34

1 Answer 1

1

Will the new, limited tracking wholly replace the ad-hoc tracking that advertisers have been doing so far, restricting it only to advertisers on your approved list?

There should not be any ad-hoc tracking being done by advertisers on the Network, only approved programmatic partners will be granted the ability to use retargeting pixels. Tracking by our own internal systems (like Google Analytics and Google Ads Manager) will continue to be used. If users notice anything abnormal happening with ads, please bring it to our attention.

Will this change invalidate the consent granted by existing users, requiring them to re-consent?

The change in the advertising guidelines announced on December 12th does not have any effect on the consent that users have given in their cookie settings because nothing in the cookie settings modal has been altered. The cookie consent modal already included a toggle for consenting to targeting cookies, and the consent that users have issued on that is still valid. In the new year we will be making updates to our cookie policy that better reflect how we use cookies relative to their associated categories, and providing domain specific visibility.

Do you plan on informing all users about the data sharing, the same way you inform those in GDPR jurisdictions?

As stated here, we are not sharing any data about SO/SE users with advertisers. Allowing retargeting pixels means that we are giving certain vetted advertisers the ability to use data they have gathered from their own websites to present more targeted ads to users on SO/SE.

2
  • Wow, I was way off! Thanks for explaining. RE “The cookie consent modal already included a toggle for consenting to targeting cookies, and the consent that users have issued on that is still valid.”: if you are changing what “targeting cookies” means, then that's not true. You're increasing the data sharing with third-parties, which means you need to ask for additional consent. GDPR does not have a provision for blanket / retroactive consent, only informed, un-coërced consent.
    – wizzwizz4
    Dec 22, 2023 at 16:37
  • 2
    You say “we are not sharing any data about SO/SE users with advertisers”, but mathematically, that's not true. If you have a contract prohibiting them from using that information except for targeting ads, that's a different thing – in which case, is it possible for us to see a template for those contracts?
    – wizzwizz4
    Dec 22, 2023 at 16:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .