Local journalism is a great thing to support, but there are limits to what that means. In this case I plan on cancelling my subscription to Simcoe.com (including the paper subscription to ‘The Mirror’, sadly) because of their excessive use of tracking technology on their website. [UPDATE: See my new post on Ads ≠ Tracking for a bit of note on sites that do ads without the obscene tracking and analytics; My problem is not the ads it’s the extra baggage]
The Simcoe dot com site has more tracking cookies and images, web analytics, and related privacy-invading technologies of any site I have visited in a very long time, aside from Facebook (I use https://duckduckgo.com not Google for my web searches and use technology that limits Google’s ability to stalk me across sites as well as Facebook, and I have deleted my Facebook account). Worse, one cannot block the trackers if one wishes to log in to the simcoe dot com site (the login will fail).
I have let simcoe dot com know of my intent to cancel but I hold out little hope for this to change anything on their site (I suspect the tracking ridiculousness comes from their parent company, Torstar).
It wasn’t an easy decision because the reason I have a subscription in the first place, when many in Midland simply refused to get a subscription in order to get news delivered to the door, that was previously free, is that I believe in support local businesses and local journalism.
Fortunately, in Midland, there is now a second choice for online news and that is MidlandToday.ca. I had been following both for a while, and finally decided that while I am not a fan of single-sourcing news, simcoe dot com’s tracking had to go.
So a note of caution to local businesses: Make sure you are aware of what your web-privacy situation is (ask your website designer / manager if you don’t know), because convincing folks to shop local is already difficult. You don’t want to make it a harder choice by having a more intrusive web presence than larger companies or local competition.
Credit for the cover illustration of eye logo for the online series ‘Big Brother Utopia’: Big Brother Utopia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, via Wikimedia Commons