You may not know it, but many people who send you email know the exact moment you open it and even where you happen to be when you open it. As The New York Times explains, many people and companies have been using small pieces of code that can track both the location and the time when someone opens up the emails they send. In the piece’s example, an investor immediately received a phone call from a startup company shortly after he opened an email that he received from it earlier in the day. Essentially, they knew the exact moment he opened up the message and pounced to see if they could spark his interest in making an investment.

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This is, to put it simply, a little weird. Thankfully, there are ways to stop some of these trackers from keeping tabs on you by disabling the feature in email that automatically loads images within a message. Here is the Times’ guide for how to accomplish this on various services and devices:

  • On Gmail

    1. Click on the gear icon and click Settings.
    2. Under the General tab, scroll down to Images.
    3. Select “Ask before displaying external images.”
    4. At the bottom, click Save Settings.

  • On an iPhone

    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
    3. Swipe left on “Load Remote Images” to turn it off.

  • On an Android

    1. Open the Gmail app.
    2. Select your account.
    3. Tap on Images.
    4. Select “Ask before showing.”

This doesn’t solve everything, however. Check out the Times’ full report on email trackers at this link.

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