Social Sharing Buttons Without Tracking

Updated on December 12, 2014
In addition to necessary resources from social networks, AddThis also loads content from several unrelated domains.
In addition to necessary resources from social networks, AddThis also loads content from several unrelated domains.

The Problem with Social Share Services like AddThis

The easiest way of adding social sharing buttons to your website or blog is using a service like AddThis, ShareThis, or AddToAny. These powerful tools track your social shares and clicks, offer customizable buttons, and (in most cases) load asynchronously without slowing your site down. Indeed, I've been a happy user of AddThis for over a year, and I still have their buttons on a few of my blogs. So why would anyone be unhappy with a great service like that?

Take a look at what resources are loaded by the AddThis script - this can be accomplished by certain browser plugins, or simply running your site through WebPageTest.org - and you will get your answer. You will quickly see that in addition to scripts from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and AddThis themselves (all necessary for the buttons to function properly), they also request something from the following domains:

  • b.scorecardresearch.com
  • ib.adnxs.com
  • cspix.media6degrees.com
  • ds.reson8.com
  • addthis.acxiom-online.com
  • d.turn.com
  • cc.chango.com

The good news is, despite the number of different domains contacted, this is unlikely to noticeably slow down your website. The bad news is, most of these are marketing companies which specialize in tracking online behavior. Some of this data might be for AddThis internal use only, while some could be used by, or sold to third-party advertising networks. All I know is that the stuff listed above is not necessary for the normal function of the share buttons.

Alternative #1: Socialite by tmort

Socialite might take some effort to set up, but it's well worth it if you want to cut out the middleman (AddThis) and load social sharing buttons yourself. You will still need scripts from Facebook Twitter, Google+, or whichever social network you decide to use, but you will avoid other third-party scripts and tracking beacons. Plus, socialite.js will be loaded from your own domain, so you will also reduce the number of DNS lookups, thus making your website a tiny bit faster.

Advantages: asynchronous loading. Creates classic Facebook Like, Twitter Share, Google+, etc. buttons without any third-party junk.

Disadvantages: you still need to load scripts from social networks themselves. Takes some time to modify for your needs.

http://socialitejs.com

Alternative #2: Basic Sharing via URL

Webmasters concerned about privacy or page load speed might want to drop "heavy" dynamic social sharing buttons altogether and implement sharing via URL instead. This much-overlooked method is as basic as it gets. You simply create links to share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. as follows:

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=yourlink
  • http://twitter.com/share?text=yourtext&url=yourlink
  • https://plus.google.com/share?url=yourlink

Links and titles can be plugged in easily in WordPress. Here's an example for Facebook:

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=<?php the_permalink(); ?>" title="<?php the_title(); ?>" target="_blank">Share on Facebook</a>

Use basic text links, design your own buttons, or download one of the many free sets offered on the web. Even better, grab the beautiful Ridiculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons which are SVG-based and change size depending on the visitor's screen resolution.

Advantages: extremely fast, highly customizable, no JavaScript whatsoever.

Disadvantages: no share counters, unless you implement internal tracking of some sort. Extra nofollow links on every page, which might be bad for your Google ranking.

Addendum: the Simple Share Buttons appear to use the same "share via URL" method, but they have figured out how to create share counters as well. In addition, they offer a WordPress plugin, which makes adding buttons very easy. Definitely something to consider if you want something that can be set up quickly. And, unlike AddThis, there's no third-party tracking. Excellent.

Share42 buttons as they appear on my website. I use SVG, so they will look good even on high-resolution Retina displays.
Share42 buttons as they appear on my website. I use SVG, so they will look good even on high-resolution Retina displays.

Alternative #3: Share42

This is what I ended up using on my biggest website after trying many different options. Share42 combines the best of both worlds: it creates basic sharing links (meaning no resources from Facebook, Pinterest, and so on are loaded) but it does so via JavaScript, so the links won't be indexed nor followed by search engines.

The tiny JavaScript file necessary to generate the sharing buttons is hosted on your own domain, and can even be tweaked according to your needs. It fires on window.onload, so it won't slow down your website. The buttons themselves are combined into a single file (CSS sprite method) which you can edit in your favorite graphics software. And you can even have counters, although that requires jQuery (most WordPress themes have it plugged in already).

Advantages: almost as fast as the previous method. JavaScript-generated, so you won't need to add several nofollow links to every page. Everything is hosted on your own domain, so it is fully customizable and you avoid additional DNS lookups.

Disadvantages: visitors who surf with JavaScript disabled won't see the sharing buttons. But is that really a problem?

http://share42.com/

We Must Choose Between What Is Easy and What Loads Fast

Services like AddThis or ShareThis make it easy to add social sharing buttons to your website and offer useful features like visitor and share analytics. However, if you are concerned about privacy and the load speed of your website, look for a "lighter", more basic alternative.

Social Bookmarking Poll

Do you use social share buttons on your websites?

See results

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, turbofuture.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://turbofuture.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)