Ever since the news broke that Facebook allowed data mining firm Cambridge Analytica to access the private information of over 50 million users, people have been giving a little more thought to their online privacy. Many of us have been trying to think of ways to keep our info safe, which can be a big struggle. There’s one answer, though: If you are one of the 1 billion people who are dedicated Google Chrome users, you might want to rethink your choice in browsers. Mozilla’s Firefox browser has a way to keep Facebook from stealing your data, and honestly? It’s going to make you want to switch back to the option you may have forgotten about.
What does your internet browser have to do with your Facebook information? As it turns out, quite a lot. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is proof that Facebook allows other companies to have access to private user data through the use of third-party apps.
Facebook also gathers info about you by tracking your every move online, using software to learn about your browsing habits in order to sell data about you to advertisers. That’s the reason why you might notice that, after searching for a pair of white boots, you see a Facebook ad for the exact white boots you were just looking at. Facebook is watching you via your browser.
To try to fight that, Firefox is now offering a new browser extension that keeps Facebook from finding out what you’re doing when you’re online. According to Co.Design, “the extension uses a so-called ‘container’ to prevent Facebook’s cookies and trackers from following you when you do leave the site.” Now, keep in mind that it can’t stop Facebook from pulling your data and learning more about you while you’re actually on Facebook. Still, it’s definitely a better alternative.
This new extension builds off of the technology behind Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers extension, which allows users to create virtual “walls” between different parts of their online lives using color-coded browser tabs to keep track of each part. The Facebook part of the extension contains Facebook inside a blue browser tab. After you install the extension, you open a new tab and go to Facebook.com. Then, the extension logs you out, deleting any trackers that are “following” you.
Essentially, only your Facebook activity is in that tab, and the site can’t get access to whatever you’re doing in the other tabs. In other words, you can kiss those creepy stalker-ish Facebook ads goodbye, thanks to Firefox.
This is different than a privacy blocker like Privacy Badger, which completely blocks trackers. Jeff Griffiths, the product lead for Firefox, told Co.Design, “Containers don’t block any content, they just limit what data the content can access. With Facebook Containers, all Facebook content still loads, but there is a separation between the Facebook Content you interact with as an identified Facebook user and your other web activities that are often unrelated to Facebook. This way, it is harder to tie your browsing activity to your Facebook identity.”
Sounds good to us! If you’re interested in trying it out, the Facebook extension is only available for Mozilla Firefox. Now might be the best time to change your browser.