Privacy Badger Review 2023: It's Free But Is It Good?

Privacy Badger may block trackers and protect your online privacy, but it's not as strong as other ad blockers.
Learn More
On Privacy Badger's website

We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Privacy Badger is a free tool designed to detect and block third-party trackers. We found it does a fairly good job of blocking ads. However, it's not specifically meant to block ads, so it doesn't always prevent ads from disrupting your online browsing activities, like watching YouTube videos.

Still, Privacy Badger can help discover trackers and update your privacy settings. It's a great option for browsing anonymously. But it's not a strong ad blocker compared to others that we featured in our best ad blockers list.

Keep reading to find out how Privacy Badger fared during our hands-on testing and whether it’s a good enough ad blocker for your needs.

In this article
Privacy Badger review at a glance
Privacy Badger features
Privacy Badger test results
Our Privacy Badger experience
Privacy Badger compatibility
Privacy Badger FAQs
Bottom line: Is Privacy Badger good?

Privacy Badger review at a glance

Ads blocked on Forbes 5/5
AdBlock Tester score 72/100
Cover Your Tracks score 3/3
Does it block YouTube ads? No
Compatibility Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera
Paid version Free, donations accepted
Details Get Privacy Badger
Data as of 6/14/2023.

Privacy Badger pros and cons

  • Detects and blocks third-party trackers
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Automatically opts out of data sharing and tracking
  • Completely free to use
  • Not a strong ad-blocking tool
  • Not available on Safari

Privacy Badger features

Privacy Badger doesn't act like your traditional ad blocker. Instead of focusing on blocking ads, it prevents third-party trackers from following your online activity. Since ads are usually third-party trackers, it blocks these types of ads. In this sense, Privacy Badger is more like a private online browsing tool instead of an ad blocker.

Here's how it works: Privacy Badger sends a Global Privacy Control signal to opt out of data sharing and selling. It also sends out Do Not Track signals to notify the website that you don't wish to be tracked. If a website fails to comply with these wishes, then Privacy Badger starts blocking it.

Instead of having a list of blocked websites, Privacy Badger makes its blocking decisions based on behavior. For example, if it spots the same tracker across three different sites, Privacy Badger blocks it.

You can also use the extension to customize privacy settings for individual trackers. You have three options appearing in a slider: Red to block a domain, yellow to block unnecessary cookies, and green to allow a domain to load without interference from Privacy Badger.

Privacy Badger has a simple slider setup where you can block, yellowlist, or allow a site domain.

Third-party trackers vs. ads

Third-party trackers gather data about your online browsing behavior and use it to display personalized ads while you’re browsing. As if that’s not annoying enough, these trackers may sell your data to other parties.

Privacy Badger test results

We put Privacy Badger to the test. First, we used AdBlock Tester to see if Privacy Badger could successfully block contextual advertising, analytics tools, banner ads, and error monitoring. It scored 72 points out of 100, which is on par with Adblock Plus (73 points). Privacy Badger was docked points for some tests due to failure to load. However, it completely failed at blocking banner ads and didn’t block flash banners, GIFs, and static images.

Privacy Badger performed fairly well in the AdBlock Tester tests, but it was docked points because it loaded GIF and static images.

The second test we conducted was with the Cover Your Tracks tool created by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). This is the same non-profit organization behind Privacy Badger. Unsurprisingly, Privacy Badger passed all three tests, successfully blocking tracking ads and trackers and protecting you from fingerprinting.

Privacy Badger passed the Cover Your Tracks test with flying colors, meaning it has strong protection against web tracking.

Browser fingerprinting is the process of building a unique online profile even if you don't use cookies while you're browsing. It collects data like hardware, location, usage, and more information to create a unique fingerprint.

Privacy Badger scores

Test AdBlock Tester Cover Your Tracks
Privacy Badger score 72/100 3/3
Test results as of 05/25/2023.

Does Incognito mode hide your browsing activity?

Chrome’s Incognito mode helps you browse more anonymously, but you’ll need to add other forms of privacy protection to hide your data from invisible trackers and advertisers.

Does Privacy Badger block YouTube ads?

YouTube ads may be the most noticeable online ad you encounter during your browsing. You may get stuck watching ads for several seconds before your YouTube video starts, in the middle of the video, or even after it's done playing.

During our testing, Privacy Badger failed to block all YouTube ads for several videos. While watching YouTube videos, we received ads at various intervals . Since Privacy Badger predominantly identifies itself as a privacy tool and not an ad blocker tool, it's easy to see how YouTube ads slipped through its tracker-blocking services.

Since many people use ad blockers to block YouTube ads, this failure does make Privacy Badger unappealing. You may find an alternative, like Total Adblock or uBlock Origin, a better choice for ad-free YouTube sessions.

However, if you are more interested in blocking trackers instead of ads, then Privacy Badger may still be a good option for you. It may also still be a good choice if you want to support your favorite YouTube creators, who often rely on ads to make a living.

Privacy Badger didn't block YouTube ads for us, but this may not be a bad thing if you want to support your favorite video creators.

Our Privacy Badger experience

Privacy Badger was easy to install and use. It even had notifications to help improve any browsing errors you may experience while you're using the extension. For example, we once received a notification to customize permissions for a Google tracker if we wanted to log in using our Google account.

We liked that Privacy Badger notified us with a way to fix browsing errors, such as customizing permissions when we tried to log into our Google account.

While not being able to block YouTube ads was disappointing, we didn't encounter any other ads while using Privacy Badger. Ads either disappeared or a blank white space showed instead.

Overall, Privacy Badger was easy to install and use on the Chrome browser. Clicking on the extension shows you the trackers Privacy Badger is managing, options to customize permissions, and an option to donate to the developers directly. For more advanced settings, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner to reveal more options.

Privacy Badger's settings make it easy to customize how and what it blocks, and it also offers advanced settings.

Why doesn’t Privacy Badger block every ad?

Privacy Badger doesn't block all ads because it wasn't built to do that. Instead, it concerns itself with detecting and blocking invasive third-party trackers. Privacy Badgers aims " prevent non-consensual invasions of people’s privacy because we believe they are inherently objectionable. We also want to create incentives for advertising companies to do the right thing."[1]

Sometimes it will put trackers on a yellowlist to signify trackers that may be necessary for website functionality. If a website is yellowlisted, it's allowed to load but Privacy Badger will attempt to block unnecessary cookies and referrers.

Consequently, it may block most ads with trackers attached, but it doesn't primarily focus on stopping ads. Sometimes ads appear even when you are using Privacy Badger, like while you're watching YouTube videos. So if you want to specifically block ads, you are better off choosing an actual ad blocker tool. The good news is that Privacy Badger is compatible with other ad blocker extensions.

Privacy Badger compatibility

Privacy Badger is compatible with several popular web browsers, and offers browser extensions for the following:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Opera

Notably, Privacy Badger doesn't work with Safari. But it is currently in the process of building an app for Safari on macOS.

Privacy Badger FAQs


Is Privacy Badger legit?

Privacy Badger is a legit tool designed to help protect your online privacy. It was designed by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and can detect and block third-party trackers.

While this means it can block many ads, it's not specifically created to block ads. You may want to install a traditional ad blocker if this is your priority.


Is Privacy Badger spyware?

Privacy Badger is not spyware. While the extension asks for permission to access your data when you install it, it doesn't mean Privacy Badger is spying on your online activity. It claims these are necessary permissions in order to detect and block third-party trackers. Privacy Badger also claims data is never shared unless you specifically share data with it.


What does Privacy Badger block?

Privacy Badger blocks third-party trackers. This stops unauthorized people or companies from tracking your online behavior and possibly selling it to other parties. Ultimately, Privacy Badger protects your online privacy. While this does mean it sometimes blocks ads, it's not specifically designed as a traditional ad blocker.


What’s the difference between Privacy Badger and Ghostery?

The difference between Privacy Badger and Ghostery is the ability to block all ads. Privacy Badger was designed to block trackers, not ads. Meanwhile, Ghostery can block all ads, including YouTube ads, and even trackers.

Bottom line: Is Privacy Badger good?

Privacy Badger is a good option for people looking for a free way to stop trackers from monitoring their online behavior. It's also compatible with several popular browsers and is an easy extension to install and use.

Privacy Badger didn't block any YouTube ads, but it did do an excellent job of blocking other ads during our testing. Another potential downside is that it's not compatible with Safari.

If you want to find the best ad blocker for you, then you may want to consider Ghostery as an option. It can block ads and trackers and ranked highly in our test results. Another option is a virtual private network (VPN) like NordVPN, which can help hide your identity and also has an ad blocker built in.

Learn More
On Privacy Badger's website

Author Details
Sara J. Nguyen is a freelance writer specializing in cybersecurity. She aims to help people protect their data while enjoying technology. She has written about online privacy and tech for over 5 years for several organizations. When she's not writing about the latest cybersecurity trends, you can find her on LinkedIn.


[1] Privacy Badger Frequently Asked Questions