Security researchers have found out that the social networking sites like facebook, Google+, twitter etc. track your browsing behavior. For example, if you visit a web site with a facebook ‘Like’ button implemented on it, then the information is sent to facebook that this facebook user visited that site. Of course, you have to be logged on to your facebook account but the information is sent even if you do not click on any ‘Like’ buttons. The same is true for other social networks like Google+, Twitter or Linkedin etc. This is a big privacy concern for everyone.
Fortunately the Priv3 extension in Firefox can save your from getting tracked by social networks. The Priv3 extension is funded by the National Science Foundation, USA. It is designed by Mohan Dhawan from the Rutgers University and Christian Kreibich and Nicholas Weaver from the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley. At the present time (at the time of writing this article), Priv3 understands and prevents tracking by four social networks – twitter, facebook, Google+ and Linkedin. The Priv3 designers say that the supported social networks list would be expanded in the future.
Priv3 does not completely block social networking features because it is counter-productive – it prevents you from actually using these features like leaving a comment, or clicking on the ‘Like button etc. Instead Priv3 only selectively suppresses the inclusion of third-party cookies when your browser pulls in content from the social networks – thus preventing the social networks from getting all the information about your web browsing behavior.
You can install and use the Priv3 extension in the Firefox browser using these simple instructions :
- Visit https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/priv3/ in your Firefox browser.
- Click on the green colored button labeled Add to Firefox.
- Click on the Install Now button in the Software Installation window that pops up. You will have to restart the Firefox browser in order to activate this add-on.
- After restarting the Firefox browser, you can see the Priv3 icon in your Firefox status panel at the bottom-right corner. This means that the Priv3 is working and preventing you from getting tracked. When you visit a web page, you can also see how many site tracking requests Priv3 has filtered by the side of this icon. Clicking on this icon would show which social networks you are logged in. If you want you can disable Priv3 by clicking on this icon and selecting Disable Priv3.
Social networks like facebook already know so much personal information about you. Now if they start tracking what you do in your browser, then it is too much. If you cannot take it any more but still love to use social networks, then you can shield yourself with the Priv3 extension for Firefox and enjoy using the social networks without getting tracked.