Websites that use text have two main options for displaying it. Use a font available on the majority of user devices or use custom web fonts that are not installed on the user’s device.
Custom web fonts, such as Google Fonts, give web designers more options when it comes to displaying text on websites, but they require visitors to download these fonts when they connect to the site. Usually caching is used to avoid downloading fonts on every visit to the page.
For Internet users, the use of web fonts has two main drawbacks:
Performance is the obvious performance, as a request must be made to the server hosting the font to download it. While this is usually fast, it still adds to the loading time. Server-related issues may also lead to loading issues on the site. Users with a limited bandwidth budget or very slow connections may benefit from blocking.
Privacy is the second. Since requests are made to servers, for example, Google servers that host corporate lines, information such as an IP address is sent automatically. Not all organizations that host web fonts use the information to track users, but there is always a chance that this can happen.
Google, for example, Highlights The following are in the terms:
APIs are designed to help you improve your websites and applications (“API client(s”). You agree that Google may monitor your use of the Application to ensure quality, improve Google’s products and services, and verify your compliance with the Terms. This monitoring may include access to Google and the use of your API client, for example to identify security issues that may affect Google or its users.
Since many sites use web fonts, widely used fonts may provide organizations with additional information about a user’s online activity.
Blocking web fonts can cause problems on some sites. Sites that rely solely on web fonts, without back-up elements in place, may not render correctly.
Find out if a site uses web fonts
It is relatively easy to tell if a site is using web fonts.
- Open the developer tools in the browser using the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-I. You find it listed on the main menu as well, usually under More Tools.
- Switch to the Network tab.
- Activate the font filter.
- Load the site in question and watch the list.
How to block web fonts
Web fonts can be blocked in several ways, depending on the browser used.
Firefox users can set the gfx.downloadable_fonts.enabled and gfx.downloadable_fonts.woff2.enabled preferences to false to block downloadable fonts in the browser.
The browser has another setting that may be useful. Introduced in Firefox 41, it enables Firefox to set specific fonts for visited websites.
- Load about:preferences#general in your browser address bar to get started.
- Scroll down to the Fonts section and select the Advanced button.
- Uncheck “Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of the selection above”. You may need to scroll the window to see the option.
- Select OK.
Users of the uBlock Origin content blocker can add a single custom line to it, to block web fonts. Open Settings, go to My Filters, and add the line *font$, third party. Select Save, and you are good to go. The content blocker includes a stricter option, which blocks all remote fonts. To activate it, select “Block remote fonts” in the extension settings. Sites that do not display properly may be excluded from the ban.
This blocks the use of web fonts only on third-party sites. First-party sites are still allowed to load.
Another option is to use the pre-made anti font menu, which you find over here. Simply import it into your content blocker of choice to block the majority of web fonts on third-party sites
Now you: How do you deal with web fonts? Are you worried about them? (Across Colinembarrett)
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