Ghostery's blocking breaks functionality on websites

If you use Ghostery to block unwanted page elements, and you come across a site that's broken because of Ghostery's blocking, you can help all Ghostery users by describing the problem in this thread.

These kinds of problems come up because you blocked something the site (unreasonably) depends on.

A common example would be Omniture, a tracking/analytics company. A page might issue a call to its embedded Omniture bug in order to register some action on your part: perhaps clicking "next" in a slideshow, or adding an item to your cart.

That call is directly tied to whatever it is you were trying to do, so that if the call fails (when Omniture is unexpectedly absent, for instance), your action fails as well.

Ghostery for Firefox and Opera includes surrogate script support. Surrogate scripts supplied by Ghostery provide the code to allow sites to continue to work even when the page elements they require had gotten blocked.

Surrogate support is on the way to Ghostery for Chrome and Safari.

Thanks for using and contributing to Ghostery!
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  • Btw, seems that skype.com is broken too with ghostery turned on. In both Opera 12.16 and Chromium 33.

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  • Musicians Friend On-Line customer care where I pay my bill on-line every month freezes when I try to log on.
    My HP quick connect people surveyed the problem via remote access. The problem was solved when/they disabled the Ghostery extension.
    I was able to log on as usual...
    Now that I know this, I will keep Ghostery enabled until I need to access this particular site...disable Ghostery until I have made my payment then enable it again, after.
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    • Yes, "hrsaccount.com" for Musicians Friend on-line customer care. As I always pay thru this bookmark of mine and this is the first time I couldn't log on.
      This is also the first time trying to log on since I got on Ghostery. The other seven accounts that I pay exhibited no such problem.
      I subscribe to HP paid support so I ran this by them.
      LSS, I will have to un-check the Ghostery extension till I log on and make my payment...at which time I will re-check the Ghostery extension till next month.
      I'm lovin' me some Ghostery!!!
    • OK, so this really isn't about Musician's Friend at all; you're actually dealing with one of Capital One's websites. HRS = Household Retail Services (Wikipedia has more information about how that came to be in the HSBC Finance article).

      [screenshot]

      "What's in your..." *WALLOP*

      (You didn't see that.)

      Since I don't have an account there, I'm not in a position to investigate further. However, there's a pretty obvious suspect; try a site-specific unblock on this.

      [screenshot]

      And yes, you can still inhibit tracking, e.g. by using your browser's built-in blocking capabilities to prevent image loading from
      www1.member-hsbc-group.com

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  • I pay all bills on-line, and I had no problem accessing any of my other seven accounts...just the musicians friend on-line care one as described above.
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  • I’m disappointed by the lack of control
    Ghostery does appear to 'break' some websites. Now I realize Ghostery was designed to stop websites from gathering information, etc. However, if I whitelist a site then any operation should be allowed.

    I have had problems on several commercial sites. The problems generally occur when I am submitting information on a contact form or entering information to gain access to a download of software or whitepaper.

    The most recent problems occurred with the http://www.flexerasoftware.com website. Ghostery was set to whitelist the Flexera website. When I fill out the form for a whitepaper or the contact me form I get the following error:

    Firefox can't find the server at now.eloqua.com.

    When this is done with Ghostery disabled I don't have the issues. I realize fully that the now.eloqua.com site is a tracker/info extractor site, however, for some sites I want what I trading my privacy for. Since one of their site scripts reference this external site I guess Ghostery is having problems 'whitelisting' the connection.

    In any case, a 'Disable All' or something similar is my recommendation so users can still access these type of websites whether or not the site code is properly contructed.
    • (Which browser are you using?)

      Let's see what's going on here.

      [screenshot]
      (click to enlarge)

      As luck would have it, the Flexera Software website isn't quite what it appears to be.

      Note what's in the address bar, and compare it with the URL displayed when hovering the cursor over one of the whitepaper links. They're not the same domain name!

      There's a fair amount of "smoke and mirrors" on the web. It's done for a variety of reasons: performance, reliability, cost savings, etc.

      I'm going to try a couple of DNS lookups to see where these are really going;

      $ host www.flexerasoftware.com
      
      www.flexerasoftware.com is an alias for flexera.hs.llnwd.net.
      flexera.hs.llnwd.net has address 69.28.179.236
      $ host learn.flexerasoftware.com
      learn.flexerasoftware.com has address 209.167.231.15
      learn.flexerasoftware.com mail is handled by 10 mail.en25.com.

      So, the main website is hosted on a CDN, Limelight Networks. There's nothing particularly suspicious about that. However, "learn.flexerasoftware.com" points somewhere rather unexpected.

      en25.com is one of the Eloqua domains (Eloqua is part of Oracle, BTW).

      You mentioned now.eloqua.com — it turns out both the whitepaper form and and the "contact us" form submissions are routed there directly.

      $ host now.eloqua.com
      
      now.eloqua.com has address 209.167.231.15

      Where have I seen that address before? Hmm. So, the whole whitepaper aspect is completely outsourced, but they're trying not to make that obvious.

      You shouldn't need to whitelist the entire site, but I'll suggest a site-specific unblock for Eloqua.

      [screenshot]

      You may need to do this twice: once for www.flexerasoftware.com, and separately for learn.flexerasoftware.com.

      (If that addresses the problem, it's probably grounds for a "compatibility" warning.)

      As for the other commercial sites, we'd need to look at each one individually, as they may have very different underlying issues.

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  • I’m very disappointed. (think Zorg, 'Fifth Element')
    The issue here is that 'I have to do it'. As a user I don't want to have to analyze a website structure to determine why a tool I have is preventing me from accomplishing something in Firefox, chrome or IE (this issue was experienced in Firefox). Your statements tell me you understand the issue, but don't see this as a problem that Ghostery should be able to handle without a user editing the blocklist. Perhaps I want to allow now.eloqua.com for only the flexerasoftware.com site and not others. Ghostery appears to be a tool that only understands simple websites and can't handle websites with subdomains (3rd level domains) or ones that use third party services.

    The simplest fix is to have a 'disable' as do most of the 'blocking' tools like noscript. The biggest problem is Ghostery requires that I figure this out via looking at the blocklists and analyzing the website architecture. Many large organizations use these 'complex architectures' on their websites and I'm going to be restructuring our website at our company to have subdomains to handle different user groups and types.

    So for now I'm going to fix the issue by uninstalling Ghostery. I'll visit the page occasionally to see if any changes that make it usable for large commercial sites have been done. I'll also inform the web designer at Flexera Software that I found the issue. She was concerned that the site had glitched and was somehow having problems with access from my ISP.

    In any case, good luck with Ghostery, but you really should consider some changes.
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    • Eric is right on all points? I'm a troll stirring up trouble? That are 650+ comments on this topic and the 'blocking article' I was referred to even has comments about blocked services like Hotmail. I am not a troll, but a software developer with 30+ years experience. I am or was a user of Ghostery who was blocked from access to a non-harmful commercial website. I would think you might want to consider there might be a problem with that many comments about broken website access. Bringing up issues of useability about a product or tool doesn't make me a troll, it makes me a user trying to make recommendations to provide possible solutions to the issue.

      As for concrete examples of what should be changed, I already have mentioned them. The NoScript references were not meant to recommend a replacement of the Ghostery interface, but an example of an interface which lets the user easily control the results of the blocking tool. NoScript notifications and interface allow me to handle most of the websites with a single click listing the non-allowed components.

      Simply, allow the user to turn off Ghostery via clicking the Ghost Icon and then some other button. Warn the user and have the icon change color, make the URL bar turn red or somehow give the user notice the blocking is off, but the option to turn it completely off or 'whitelist' everything should be there.

      Ghostery should also offer the option to 'whitelist' linked website pages. This method would trace visted URLs from the root page and realize the subordinate (subdomain) pages are the same site.If a user 'whitelists' an entire site it should include entire site. Options for depth, same IP series, similar domain names, etc. could be provided.

      The biggest issue I see is notification to the user. There was no active notification of the blocking of the Oracle now.eloqua.com service, simply the website was unavailable. If your tool completely disables access or substitutes scripting you should notify the user of these actions clearly. I should not see a page with a message about a website is unavailable, but that the site was blocked by Ghostery. What was really confusing was I had whitelsted the site and whitelisted the subdomain site and yet I was blocked from access to a commercial content provider. There was no way but to investigate the site architecture and then look at Ghostery to explicitly allow the Oracle Service.

      Your philosophy of the 'tool breaking the web' needs some tweaking. Most users want to be informed of malicious activity and be protected. However, making the user take extra effort to bypass blocked content on 'normal' sites generally gets the tool removed. My current feeling about Ghostery is most comparable to the 'Boy Who Cried Wolf'. A tool that constantly calls the normal way the internet operates suspicious ends up getting ignored until its too late just like 'The Boy Cried Wolf'. I hope you make some changes because I do like the ideal of Ghostery, however, like the smoke alarm in the kitchen that goes off for every slice of toast I make, other solutions must be considered if change doesn't occur.
    • Thanks, your suggestions have been entered into our bug tracking so we could address them at some point.

      It seems to me that we already provide the controls you seem to think were missing, minus notification (given that the purple box is off). Color changing techniques are something we've tried before and now we're considering an extra badge on the icon, instead, to signify status of Ghostery on a given site. Drawback with color only is that blind/ color-blind would not be able to read this change.

      As to the others, as I said, we already have all of the items you mention:
      - Pausing Ghostery disables blocking until re-enabled. This is the best we can offer -- disabling Ghostery is only available from addons menu
      - Whitelist already works sitewide provided you enter it as such. To do that, you need to add a listing in Ghostery options for blah.com instead of www.blah.com
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  • This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
    trying to view photos of cars but site is broken unless....


    http://www.wired.com/2014/04/mustangs... site does not work unless it is whitelisted. why? lalicata at lalicata@aol.com dot com

    also had toturn off "DoNotTrackMe" extension
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  • Other Site: skyvector.com with Ghostery 5.2.0 and Chromium on Mac OS X 10.6.x:
    "If you can read this, enable javascript."
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  • I am trying to look at some apartments through a commercial site. Ghostery appears to be blocking the photos. I have tried to disable/add to whitelist, and any other strategy I can think of - but it is still not letting me see the photos on the website. What to do?
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  • https://www.viewit.ca/vwMapSearch.asp... (a general search page)

    ver.? I have just d/loaded it last week - can't find a version number. Thanks! P
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  • Hi,

    Just in case there are any users of 'Three' (UK mobile phone service provider) reading this, the search functionality on http://www.three.co.uk/ is broken unless you unblock the widget 'Google AJAX search API'.
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