Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that it would start using your web-browsing data to create targeted ads, under the guise of giving you more control over the ads you see. Well, privacy nerds, despair not, browser extension Adblock Plus says it can stop Facebook and others from tracking you.
Web users can block Facebook using a special “block” list in Adblock Plus that prevents the social media giant and 6,700 others from following your online behavior, the Adblock team said yesterday in a blog post.
The feature has been available since last summer, but the company is touting it now in light of the concerns over Facebook’s latest announcement.
Other big companies on Adblock’s blocking list include Pinterest, Linkedin, Google, and Twitter. The browser extension stops companies from tracking your behavior by making widgets invisible — meaning you’ll have to manually post a link in Facebook instead of just clicking on a widget in the article.
“Widgets collect data when you’re logged in, and they collect other data about you when you’re not logged in, and then that data is combined and they make an educated guess,” says Ben Williams, Director of Communications for Adblock. “We’re going to make a leap and say that this person is Mike and he likes a, b, and c.”
Facebook did offer some advice on how to opt-out of being tracked for targeted ads, but it’s a somewhat laborious process — likely to deter users from making the move. You have to go through the Digital Advertising Alliance, an ad industry self-regulatory group, for instructions on how to block the social network from sending you targeted ads. But even that may not be a lasting solution, says Williams.
“What it does is that it affixes a cookie to the browser. One, I don’t know what kind of shelf life that cookie has. More pertinently, it is something that you have to install on every browser on every device that you have.” Also, if you clear out your cookies, you’ll have to apply the cookie again.
While you also have to install Adblock Plus on all of your devices, you won’t need to check up on it once it’s installed.