Even with the ongoing #deletefacebook movement, not everyone is willing to completely walk away from the connections they’ve made on the social platform. After all, Facebook — and its subsidiary Instagram — is where the mountain biking club organizes rides, people post pet pics, dance moves catch on and life’s moments get shared with friends and family, near and far. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has been greeted with more skepticism as it’s been under a hot spotlight on how it gathers, uses and gives access to our personal data for targeted advertising and manipulation, both on and off Facebook platforms. With recent news about their policy not to block false political ads, this targeting gets ever malicious.
The bad news is that we can’t be sure how much Facebook continues to engage in dodgy data practices. But the good news is that the Facebook Container extension for Firefox can help you put a “fence” between your Facebook profile and what you do on the rest of the web, thereby limiting Facebook’s reach.
How it works
If you’ve ever created a Facebook account (and even if you haven’t) Facebook can track almost all your web activity and tie it to your Facebook identity. Many sites embed Facebook widgets on their sites, meaning, any site where you spot a “Like” button, see Facebook comments enabled or have the option to sign in with your Facebook account, you’re being tracked by Facebook. These embedded widgets might make logging in or commenting easier, however that convenience opens you up to being tracked by Facebook across the web.
For those who would like to opt out of Facebook tracking, the Facebook Container extension for the Firefox browser will block those embedded widgets on non-Facebook pages. And in doing so, Firefox helps you protect your browsing history and data from Facebook.
When you’re browsing with the Facebook Container extension, you can still go to any site and view content, but Facebook enabled comments, shares, likes and logins will be blocked. A blocked widget will look like this with a pink, circular callout to alert you:
What about Facebook Messenger and Instagram?
To help you control the amount of data Facebook can gather about you, the Facebook Container extension also includes protection from Instagram and Facebook Messenger trackers. This way, no matter where you are on the internet, trackers and cookies embedded from those sites are also blocked. But it also means that Instagram media embedded on websites will be blocked, so you might see this:
You can still click through to view the embedded photo or video on Instagram with Facebook Container protection.
Technology that fights for you
This article has been updated from its original publication on July 31, 2019.
Also published on Medium.