Privacy

Mozilla's New Firefox Extension Will Try to Stop Facebook from Tracking You

But wouldn't have stopped the Cambridge Analytica incident

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Mohamed Ahmed Soliman | Dreamstime.com

Mozilla Firefox has a new extension to prevent Facebook from tracking your online habits.

Capitalizing on the fears surrounding Facebook privacy, Mozilla has designed the "Facebook Container," a Firefox add-on that blocks Facebook from tracking users when they click on ads or links that take them off the site.

Facebook currently uses a program called Pixel to collect information on how users engage with the site. When users click on links, they visit external sites but are still logged in to Facebook's platform. These outside sites will contain "share" or "like" buttons, and when users engage with these functions, this activity is connected to their Facebook identity. That's how Facebook is able to fine-tune its advertisements to its users. While this is a well-known practice, many aren't aware that their behaviors outside the core function of Facebook are tracked.

But when people using Facebook Container click a link on Facebook, it loads in a seperate blue tab that isolates users' activities from the core site. In these blue tabs, users will not be logged into Facebook, which prevents further data collection. Users do have the option to continue to use the "share" and "like" buttons, but Mozilla notes that these activities may still be tracked. The extension doesn't prevent data collection, but it offers users more control over their privacy.

"Facebook can continue to deliver their service to you and send you advertising," Mozilla explained in its announcement about the extension. "The difference is that it will be much harder for Facebook to use your activity collected off Facebook to send you ads and other targeted messages." The company acknowledges that the "type of data in the recent Cambridge Analytica incident would not have been prevented by Facebook Container. But troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet, and so giving users a choice to limit what they share in a way that is under their control is important."

While other people pound their fists and clamor for more regulations, Mozilla reminds us that sometimes the quickest way to address a technological problem in the private sector is with a technological solution in the private sector.

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  1. But troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet

    It always amazes me how stupid people can be to not understand this.

    1. [Collects more data on $parky]

      1. *suspects $parky isn’t a real name*

        1. *Charles Schulz disagrees*

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          2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

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  2. The company acknowledges that the “type of data in the recent Cambridge Analytica incident would not have been prevented by Facebook Container. But troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet, and so giving users a choice to limit what they share in a way that is under their control is important.”

    At this point I’ll take even a small move in the direction of privacy.

  3. This is why I use Brave. Even if it probably doesn’t do much.

    1. The irony of cleaving towards privacy after booting Eich is pretty grin-inducing.

    2. If you want something guaranteed to protect your on-line privacy, Exxon sells a pretty good product for about 2.50 a gallon. Just wipe your computer with it, like with a cloth or something, and apply a match.

      1. +1 “Like with a cloth or something?”

  4. But wouldn’t have stopped the Cambridge Analytica incident

    Of course not, because that (and the Obama campaign in 2012 pulling in “the entire social network of the US”) happens WITHIN facebook, not due to your browser connection.

    1. I fear that these scares deny a chance to teach a lesson. I doubt that people are actually surprised that when you take a survey the results are used for something, but if they are then inform people that this is the case. Blaming it on vast international conspiracies do a disservice to teaching people how to take care of themselves.

      1. The TED talk by Davidsen was interesting, not just from the revelation, but there was a few philosophical tidbits that were worth pondering. She asked the question, “Who owns the information that you and I are friends.”

        According to her assessment, she does. She can walk down the street and tell someone she just met that “Janet and I are friends”. So that was the justification to pull in the entire friend network of anyone who ‘opted in’ to the Facebook survey. Unfortunately, the question goes deeper than what she suggested.

        I may be able to tell a stranger that, sure, I know old Ned, but it’s not really ethical for me to say, “And Ned lives at 3434 Maple Lane, his schedule is 8-5 Monday through Friday at the paper mill, his kids go to Booker T. Washington Elementary, their names are Denise and Tyler, and here’s a bunch of pictures of them in Hawaii.”

        1. Way to force poor Ned into witness protection.

        2. “but it’s not really ethical for me to say, “And Ned lives at 3434 Maple Lane, his schedule is 8-5 Monday through Friday at the paper mill, his kids go to Booker T. Washington Elementary, their names are Denise and Tyler, and here’s a bunch of pictures of them in Hawaii.””

          Not even if their kids are really really cute?

  5. Someone please just tell me what extension I can install to tell me how many times Facebook tricked me into voting Trump.

    1. The Washington Post is working on it, you deplorable.

  6. Now if Mozilla would just stop pounding the net neutrality drum…

    1. And the ‘we need your contribution to remain PURE!’ BS.
      Screw you; run ads.

      1. Except I bet 90% of Mozilla users block ads.

    2. Or make a better browser. Maybe they have improved it, but I used firefox for years only to quit a few years ago after it had become an unstable buggy mess. It was just garbage.

      1. Beginning with version 57, Mozilla completely rewrote the browser engine resulting in impressive improvements over older versions. It might be worth the effort to give it another try.

        1. Agreed, it’s much better now. I remember those bad old days.

      2. Mozilla has done exactly that: Quantum. It’s a vast improvement to Firefox. Big overhaul. Seems faster than Chrome. This is desktop only for now, I believe. Not sure about mobile plans.

    3. I believe they have a lot to gain from it. They are still a business, even if it’s a non-profit.

      They have a headquarter in Palo Alto. They aren’t hurting. They pull the classic non-profit move of pretending they have no beliefs, or stances. That if they aren’t making a profit, then they are free from self-interest. Which is, of course, bullshit.

      1. If the officers are paid a huge salary, have a bundle of perks that will not fit in a semi, and have a 5,000 sq/ft office, why would they care if there is a profit or not?

        1. There’s an unfortunate common belief that non-profit effectively means free from motive or some horseshit.

      2. They’re all geeks who want to ride the streaming subsidy like all the rest of the “net neutrality” (God, I hate that name) chimps.

      3. “They have a headquarter in Palo Alto.”

        And one on the Embarcadero at Harrison in SF; hard to find more expensive real estate ’bout anywhere in the world.

        1. Yes, I remember you showing me that, but I couldn’t quickly find that one from a search. So I defaulted for the HQ. Thanks for bringing up that one again.

  7. Welcome to the internship, Ms. Stetzel!

    Fun Fact: according to Ancestry.com the surname Stetzel is an altered spelling of the South German St?tzel, a nickname for a stockily built man, from a diminutive of Middle High German stotze ‘log’, ‘clod’, ‘lump’.

    1. Dude, you have to stop stalking the interns.

      1. Hey, if Google image search is to be believed she’s super hot.

        1. If there is one thing the Libertarian tent needs more of, it’s total babes. It’s kind of a sausage party.

    2. Fun Fact: according to Ancestry.com the surname Stetzel is an altered spelling of the South German St?tzel

      I wonder if Stossel is also an altered spelling of Stotzel?

  8. Just throwing it out there, but another solution is VPN. For anybody who doesn’t know what that means, you’re connecting to a VPN’s servers–and all your traffic appears to be coming from the service rather than you. Sometimes all my adds are directed to people in Chicago or Dallas. Sometimes they’re in Portuguese.

    When you’re shopping for a VPN solution, you might prioritize a few things for privacy. One–you might want a service that’s based outside of the 14 eyes countries. If you don’t know what that means, Wiki it. Two–you might want a service that doesn’t keep any server logs.

    There’s an excellent service selling a package with unlimited data for $99 for three years–you can have up to six, count ’em, six devices at the same time. The are other excellent services available for $99 a year.

  9. Also, from a browser perspective, be aware that just because you love Chrome, doesn’t mean you have to use Google. Chrome is licensed from somebody else. You can use “Chromium” which is what Chrome is before Google messes with it. There’s a “degoogled” Chromium available as well.

    The Opera browser offers a free VPN built in. It has its vulnerabilities, too-but it’s another option that will work well for some people.

    http://www.operavpn.com/

    Before Zuck goes in front of congress and begs to be regulated, we should make sure our friends and family know there are already so many options out there. We need not depend on politicians to protect our privacy–just like we don’t need to depend on the police to protect us from home invasion robberies. There are plenty of things we can do to protect ourselves–and some of the most effective options are free of charge.

  10. I use NoScript, and only allow Facebook’s scripts to operate when I’m using the site (which is infrequently). I think that largely accomplishes the same thing. Though they might look at my browser’s cookies and such during those brief opportunities, at least they can’t monitor my activity on an ongoing basis. Of course I also don’t opt in to any other data sharing schemes either.

    If anyone has knowledge to the contrary, let me know.

  11. I’m not sure this plugin will do anything that uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger don’t already do.

    1. I use both of those & was wondering the same. Too lazy to check, though.

  12. This problem is with the old one version of Firefox, and after its updated version there is no such problem and rather than you get any issue to connect with that is more helpful in resolving the issue, keep get solutions from them for your browser.

  13. This problem is with the old one version of Firefox, and after its updated version there is no such problem and rather than you get any issue to connect with https://www.browsertechnicalsupportnumbers.com/ that is more helpful in resolving the issue, keep get solutions from them for your browser.

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