Facebook knows about you even more than your Mum. It knows who your friends are, what you talk with them about, it knows what you buy, what you watch and listen to online. The almighty Zuckerberg's empire can even tracks your entire browsing history and go as far as scan your contacts in your non-Facebook mailbox. Looks pretty much like Facebook sometimes crosses the thin line between making your social network experience better and violating your privacy. Yesterday we told you how to stop Zuckerberg from ransacking you data while you're offline. Now it's time to learn how to secure your Facebook privacy online.
Why Do They Do It?
It's no secret Facebook closely watches what we do on its pages. Your every move, every page view, every Like are meticulously gathered on Facebook servers. The true reasoning behind this careful attention to your Facebook activities is quite obvious: just look at the ads next to your news feed. I bet most of them are one way or another interesting for you. If you are a Hindu IT-engineer from Mumbai, the odds are you won't find any ads about new tremendous beef hamburgers in the local MacDonald's. Conversely, if you're a fifteen-year-old fan of Justine Bieber from North Dakota, you'll hardly learn about the lately published collected works of Michel Foucault.
Facebook evaluates all our personal data within its grasp only to adjust its ads to each of its users better. It's not that awful per se, as long as it helps the consumers get exactly what they want or what they may want and facilitates marketing for vendors...
How Do They Do It?
… but at the same time, overzealous Internet tracking doesn't exactly fit into the idea of privacy. So, for example, using Facebook you get the so-called tracking cookies planted in your web-browser. They are basically small pieces of data allowing Marc Zuckerberg track you whole browsing history, even you're logged out from Facebook. It doesn't take a big stretch of imagination to see what power it gives Facebook over you: even the government can know less about your private life and your private affiliations.
To be completely honest, Facebook has abandoned the practice of tracking you under your user name when you're logged out. In other words, if John Doe logs out from Facebook, he stops being John Doe for his cookies; the 'only' data tracked are your browser and system info. Nevertheless, it's not that exciting to know your every move on the Web is being watched. Besides, any page John Doe visits when he's logged it, is stored on Facebook servers under his user name.
How Can I Stop It?
I've got bad news if you use Safari or IE: looks like there's no or almost no sensible methods to bypass the data vortex in these browsers. If you use Chrome or Firefox, then the best way to stop your personal data flow right into Facebook's hand is to install a plug-in for managing cookies. Here to the three best solutions we've found on the Web for you:
Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus
Facebook Privacy List has only one drawback: you need to install Adblock Plus first. This popular plug-in will allow you to switch off the ads in your browser so that you can be sure you click some meaningful link and not another advertising booby trap.
This plug-in has one huge pro: you can get is as stand-alone and don't need any additional extensions installed in your browser. Moreover, it specifically targets only Facebook cookies, preventing them from being dropped off on your computer and blocking them if you're already having some. It all comes down to cutting the rope between Facebook and third-party sites, so the latter cannot hand over your data to Zuckerberg. Just as Adblock Plus, the extension is available both for Chrome and for Firefox and is absolutely free.
Cookie editing plug-ins
These extensions are my absolute favorites; they don't block all cookies no matter where they come from but rather allow you to customize which cookies are welcome in your browser and who had better save them up for someone else. The downside is that you'll need some time to work out how you can do it, so they're not the best choice for those not so techy people. If you think you know what's what in your browser, you should definitely give a try to those two.
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