Recent announcements from Facebook, the world’s largest social network, make it clear that they intend to force you into absolute transparency. On the one hand that’s great accountability. On the other, that’s pretty scary stuff.
Whether or not you know it (or like it) Facebook and Google track your every click, tweet, comment, and share. They know that you read the New York Times or use Biblegateway or even that you bank at Chase. When you are logged in on one tab they are tracking what you do with every tab so they can market to you. And since Facebook’s cookies don’t expire,
Starting soon, they want to automatically share what you are up to with your Facebook friends. Any site which has integrated the Facebook’s open graph protocol on their site may eventually be eligible to publish to your friends what you are reading or what you are watching on YouTube. (It’s piloting this with Netflix & Spotify already.)
While I don’t think this will last long– first because it violates your privacy, which is likely breaking some law and second because people will hate it— it will be important to know how to disable this “feature.”
While this will be enabled by default you can disable it. Here are three options/plugins from Lifehacker for turning off this tracking. (No, logging out isn’t enough!)
- Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus is perfect for those of you who already have AdBlock Plus installed (get ABP for Chrome or Firefox). Just download the subscription and add it to AdBlock Plus to specifically block Facebook plugins and scripts all over the web—including the Like button-whenever you’re not visiting Facebook directly.
- Facebook Disconnect for Chrome keeps Facebook from dropping those tracking cookies on your system in the first place, and disables them when you’re finished using Facebook-enabled services. It’s essentially an on/off switch for third-party access to Facebook servers, meaning you’ll still be able to log in to Facebook and use the site normally, but when you’re visiting another site or using another application, that site or service won’t be able to use your information to communicate with Facebook.
Disconnect for Chrome and Firefox is a new plugin from the developer behind Facebook Disconnect, but it doesn’t stop with Facebook. Disconnect takes protection to a another level and blocks tracking cookies from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Digg, and Yahoo, and prevents all of those services from obtaining your browsing or search history from third party sites that you may visit. The app doesn’t stop any of those services from working when you’re visiting the specific sites, for you can still search at Google and use Google+, but Google’s +1 button likely won’t work on third party sites, for example. The extension also lets you see how many requests are blocked, in real time as they come in, and unblock select services if, for example, you really want to Like or +1 an article you read, or share it with friends.