While we may not think about it very much, there is quite a bit more going on ‘behind the scenes’ than we might realize when browsing the internet. We explore the reasons why our browsers are busy contacting unknown third-party websites in today’s SuperUser Q&A post.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Fsaladin wants to know why a browser is automatically contacting unknown third-party websites without permission:

When I visit a website, everything connects as it should, however, I notice that my browser also contacts unknown third-party websites automatically. In Mozilla Firefox, an extension called Lightbeam shows the third-party websites that my browser contacted without my permission. I visited 15 websites and my browser automatically contacted nearly 50 other third-party websites.

What is the reason behind this? Can anybody explain?

What is going on here? Why is Fsaladin’s browser automatically contacting so many unknown websites without permission?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Oxymoron has the answer for us:

There are many different reasons.

1. Almost all the ads you see come from third-parties.

2. The developers of the website may use third-party libraries to achieve their goals, such as jQuery and others.

3. The website may depend on data from another website, such as an API.

The complete list is extensive, however these three are the main reasons. Most are harmless and nothing to worry about, however, one should always educate themselves about the dangers just in case.

Although most of us are focused solely on work or play while browsing the internet, there is quite a bit more going on ‘behind the scenes’ than we may be aware of, or take the time to think about.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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