Facebook tracks its users online, far beyond the app and other services. Given the latest data privacy scandal involving Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica, Mozilla is letting internet users fight back.
A new browser extension called the “Facebook Container” lets Firefox users isolate their activity on Facebook to Facebook.com, making it more difficult to track users’ actions elsewhere on the web. The hope is that someone searching for and booking a trip wouldn’t then cause related ads to appear on your Facebook feed, for example, without having to go ahead and delete Facebook altogether.
As Mozilla wrote in its blog post,
The pages you visit on the web can say a lot about you. They can infer where you live, the hobbies you have, and your political persuasion. There’s enormous value in tying this data to your social profile, and Facebook has a network of trackers on various websites. This code tracks you invisibly and it is often impossible to determine when this data is being shared.
The extension is far from a perfect solution. Mozilla noted in the blog post that websites that allowed a user to create an account and log-in through Facebook will not work properly within the Facebook Container.
Mozilla’s update comes in the wake of Facebook’s scandal with Cambridge Anaytica, where at least 50 million Facebook users had their personal data used without their direct consent. As Mozilla explained, this browser wouldn’t have prevented that access, but it does give users more control in what type of data Facebook is able to access. Mozilla also announced last week it would “pause” advertising on Facebook and won’t return until CEO Mark Zuckerberg “takes stronger action” on safeguarding customers’ data.
Here’s how the “Facebook Container” works:
1. Download Firefox, if you don’t already have it.
2. Add the extension to Firefox.
3. Browse on Facebook, with a new sense of security.
Facebook is far from the only site tracking people on the web, and Mozilla wrote in the blog post that it didn’t want to just single them out:
Facebook isn’t unique in their practice of collecting data from your activity outside of the core service, and our goal is not to single out a particular organization, but to start with a well-defined problem that we can solve quickly. As good privacy hygiene, it’s also worth reviewing your privacy settings for each app that you use regularly.
And yet, here we are.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We will update this post if and when we hear back.