Facebook is in the news again, and not in a good way. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many members of the general public and investors alike are starting to ditch the service. While many were aware that Facebook made money off of their information, the level of invasiveness was not made clear until now. In an effort to address privacy concerns regarding Facebook spying, Mozilla has released a new Firefox extension called Facebook Container that will keep your browsing in a separate “container” and keep the company from reading your information.
The Firefox extension is free to install for Firefox users, and was developed by Mozilla themselves in order to address Facebook spying. According to the makers, “when you first install the add-on, it signs you out of Facebook and deletes the cookies that Facebook uses to track you on other websites.”
Mozilla has been outspoken in their support for privacy and protecting user data from Facebook spying (as evidenced by the release of the Firefox extension) and has even ceased running ads on Facebook in order to add a little bit more pressure onto the social media giant and encourage them to treat their customers’ data with more respect.
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In a recent blog post, Mozilla’s VP of Firefox Product Nick Nguyen said that “as a user of the internet, you deserve a voice and should be able to use the internet on your own terms.” This includes, presumably, the ability to know and understand both when and how websites are tracking you and using their data.
In an interview with the Register, he added that “The type of data in the recent Cambridge Analytica incident would not have been prevented by Facebook Container…but troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet, and so giving users a choice to limit what they share in a way that is under their control is important.”
While this Firefox extension may not be the incredible solution we need in order to protect ourselves entirely from Facebook spying, it’s certainly a step in the right direction in order to limit the influence that Facebook has over our data when we’re browsing around the web.
However, it’s important to note that if you give apps the authorization to access your data when browsing Facebook, there’s nothing Mozilla’s tool can do to address it. Basically, think of this Firefox extension as a way to avoid Facebook spying you’re unaware of while browsing across other sites. Because Facebook won’t be able to introduce cookies outside of the Facebook Container, the company won’t be able to glean browsing data unless you give it to them willingly.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal happened due to improper management of data, and was allegedly used to influence the election by creating a number of connections across millions of users and transmitting micro-targeted ads. Because this web of connections was initially built through people that gave their information away willingly and then extended to millions of others through analytics, the Facebook Container wouldn’t have been able to address the problem.
Still, until we’re positive that Facebook is changing their ways and will be more respectful of private data moving forward, using the Firefox Facebook Container extension certainly couldn’t hurt.