To stop Facebook from tracking you on the web there are several ways to do it and in this article you’ll learn some of them — if you are a Google Chrome, Firefox users, or other web browsers. But first you need to know why you should consider protecting yourself from the social network giant.
There has been a buzz around the web over the weekend, from an article written by Dave Winer at Springting.com, that details how Facebook is tracking users where they are on the web after logging in without their permission. Then Nik Cubrilovic went even deeper, and he has figured out that Facebook can still keep track of where users are on the web even when they are logged out. In an article from ZDNet details that Facebook denies such allegations. Now it is all up to you to decide who you want to believe. Regardless, in this article you’ll find different ways to protect yourself and keep your information and movements private from Facebook and other social services as well.
The problem — Facebook’s apps are always on the watch
Did you know that Facebook tracking goes beyond your time on the site? Any website or online service that utilizes any Facebook services (e.g. Like button) sends information without your permission. However there is another thing that Winer has discovered on the resent Facebook changes; the new Facebook Open-Graph enabled social web apps to send information to Facebook and can share things with your friends, and it can also post to your profile without your consent.
This basically means, that when you are using any of these apps and you are watching a movie, reading an article, listening a song, you are sending some information to Facebook, information that can be automatically added to your profile or shared with your friends, and Facebook will not ask for permission to take action.
One simple solution for this will be staying logged out when you are done using the service, and it will also help if Facebook would set its cookies to expire, which at this moment they aren’t.
You thought that logging out was more than enough? Well, it isn’t
Keeping analyzing, Nik Cubrilovic found out on Dave Winer’s research that when you log out of Facebook and any other web application that connects to the social network, Facebook’s web browser cookies don’t expire and keeps sending information to Facebook about what you are doing and where you are on the web.
At this point, Cubrilovic explained that the only way to really disable Facebook tracking you, is to log out of your profile and going to the web browser settings and manually delete Facebook.com cookies.
How can you protect yourself from Facebook tracking
After reading everything above, you may have noticed that there is not an option to disable Facebook tracking. So, if what Winer and Cubrilovic are saying is true about Facebook tracking, anyone that is concern about this situation should know that there are some options. As mentioned before, you can manually delete Facebook.com cookies from your web browser, and of course, there are already several web browser extensions to stop Facebook from tracking you on the web:
- Facebook Privacy Filter for Adblock Plus: This is the same concept I published in a previous article, how to disable Facebook News Ticker, and it is ideal for those users that are already using the extension. Adblock Plus is available for Google Chrome and for Firefox. Simply download and install the extension, and add the filter subscription to block Facebook plugins and scripts that your web browser may come across, including the Like button.
- Disconnect is available for Google Chrome or Firefox: This is a new extension that adds a really great protection and blocks tracking cookies from Facebook and other major sites like Google, Digg, Twitter, and Yahoo, which prevents any of these sites to get any of your search or browsing history. The good thing about this extension is that it doesn’t block the online services when you use them, this means that if you download and install it, you can still do a search on Google.com, and use Google+, but the Google +1 button is likely to stop working, just to put an example. The app will let you see what is being blocked and you can also unblock certain services in the case there is something worth to +1, Like, or share.
- Facebook Disconnect for Google Chrome: This extension protects your web browser by blocking Facebook tracking cookies, and it disables them when you are done using Facebook enabled services. Facebook Disconnect blocks all traffic from third-party websites to Facebook servers, but still allows you to access Facebook itself.
Hopefully now you will have more control over what you want to share, this being with Facebook or any other social service, and not leaving others make the decision for you. At the end of the day the problem is how much data Facebook can get their hands of and how difficult it is to opt-out. That is why the extensions mentioned today will come in handy.
You also may realize that Facebook is likely to not change this for a long time. So if you are one of those that is concerned, you should take action and protect your privacy.
Be the first a leave a comment with your thoughts in this new Facebook tracking issue for many people. Is Facebook doing the right thing?