Block Facebook from tracking you

 | July 18, 2008 3:49 PM

I have mixed emotions about Facebook.  To me it seems like AOL for the 21st century.  It is a walled off world where people can easily communicate, share photos, etc.  But for this convenience you must become a member and you must login to access this functionality.  I prefer staying out in the wild, wooly world of the Internet but sometimes I do go in because of the network effect, so many others are on it.  In fact, my cousin will only send me email through Facebook.

Anyway it has come to light that Logged in or out, Facebook is watching you.

Researchers at software vendor CA have discovered that social networking site Facebook is able to track the buying habits of its users on affiliated third-party sites even when they are logged out of their account or have opted out of its controversial “Beacon” tracking service.

I was so annoyed by this that I looked around for a way to stop this and found this article, Block Facebook Beacon.  It turns out it is rather simple to stop Facebook from tracking you if you use Firefox, install the BlockSite add-on and then add “http://*facebook.com/beacon/*” to the Blacklist.  There are also solutions for Safari

Still the whole thing is rather annoying (I have a lot of browsers I have to configure this for) and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that Facebook is going to stop doing this as they try to figure out how to actually make some money to justify that $15 billion valuation.  I hope this Facebook fad ends soon and we move to the next one, hopefully by a company we’ve never heard of.

3 Responses to “Block Facebook from tracking you”

essny wrote a comment on July 18, 2008

this is good to know. Thanks, Frank.

Topher wrote a comment on July 27, 2008

Ah… the internet age old scam… “Hey… mind if I put a cookie in your browser?” Facebook is a marketing database dream. Tell us about your interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Now… where do you shop? With a network of inter-personal relationships, and spending habits.

A sharp marketing person with knowledge of statistical correlation, can sell marketing this data to someone like… Amazon, and make that first touch landing page that much more appealing to a surfer like me….

My amazon page based on face book would look like this:

Welcome Topher
Have you purchased Pixar’s latest movie?
Volume 1 & 2 of Hero is now available on BlueRay.
Connor’s Birthday is coming up, did you get him that golf set?
etc etc etc.

There’s a ton-o-companies in this space. They plant a cookie in your browser, and ask other websites to place a transparent 1 pixel gif on their website. You should also block:
intellitxt.com
specificclick.net
webtrendslive.com
adbrite.com
1o2.net

I use the “block-all third party cookies” feature in Firefox 3. I also tell the browser to prompt me when a website wants to store a cookie.

cheers,
topher

seonghuhn wrote a comment on July 28, 2008

Wow, that was really helpful. I blocked the sites you suggested and blocked all third party cookies.

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