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facebook trackingWhenever you visit a site with a Like, Tweet or +1 button, you’re actually sharing data with Facebook, Twitter or Google. And that’s not all. There are hundreds of advertising and data collection companies that know quite a bit about your browsing habits. Luckily, no matter what your browser of choice might happen to be, there is a way to stop social networks and advertising companies from tracking your every move on the Web.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google store cookies on your computer, making it possible for them to keep tabs on you on other websites, as long as there’s a button that can send information to that social network, like a Follow, Like or Tweet button, you know that your data is being shared with these sites. You don’t even have to be logged into your social network account for the data transfer to happen.

One of the few reasons you might want to share your data with these companies is to receive suggestions on which tweeps to follow, which pages to like, and so on. Of course, that doesn’t seem like justification enough to many, and rightfully so. Instead of letting these sites collect your data, anonymized as it may be, there are several ways you can block them from accessing your content. The following extensions, presented in no particular order, can give you back a little bit of your well deserved privacy.

Do Not Track Plus

Do Not Track Plus (DNT+) is one of the most efficient methods of blocking Facebook and advertisers from tracking you online. Available as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer for Mac and PC users, DNT+ sits unobtrusively in your browser and lets you know exactly how many third parties have been blocked from accessing your data.

After you’ve installed DNT+ in your browser, whenever you visit a site, the icon in your browser bar will let you know how how many social networks, ad networks and companies have been blocked. By expanding each section, you can see exactly which of these companies have been blocked. For example, when visiting CNN.com, you can use DNT+ to automatically block Facebook, Nielsen and more. DNT+ also gives you the option to disable the service on any given site, if you so choose.

facebook tracking

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DNT+ promises to remain free, and currently claims to be blocking over 600 trackers, and automatically updates to catch new trackers. So if your main concern is blocking social networks and advertisers, DNT+ is a great way of doing just that.

Disconnect

Disconnect is a great option if you want to block just one specific social network. It comes with individual extensions to stop Facebook, Twitter or Google from tracking you around the web, while also giving you the option to download one extension for all three. Available for Firefox, Chrome and Safari, the extension will let you know if Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Yahoo are tracking you on any given site, and will stop them from storing a cookie on your computer.

facebook tracking users

Collusion for Chrome and Safari is a second tool available from the same team that brought us Disconnect, while Firefox users can use Mozilla’s own original version. The extension will let you know which ad networks are tracking you through this site, and maps out the sites that are accessing your data in an interesting visual way. Collusion is very useful for those who really want to understand how your data is being used, and to view connections and commonalities between all the different sites they visit.

facebook tracking users

Ghostery

Available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer, Ghostery is a great option for those of you who are looking for a bit of additional information beyond just who or what you’re blocking.

facebook tracking users

Like Disconnect and DNT+, the extension sits unobtrusively in your browser bar and will let you know how many companies have been blocked when you’re visiting any given page. In addition to letting you know which companies have been blocked, by clicking on any of the links, you can launch a Ghostery page which tells you a little bit more about the company. You can find out what kind of data they collect, how they share that data, and how long they keep it.

facebook tracking

Ghostery is an excellent option for those of you who are looking to have more control over who you share your data with and how, and like DNT+ allows you to selectively unblock certain sites. If you want to just simply block it all, you may not find yourself making use of these features.

Mobile Browsing

If you want to stop social networks from keeping tabs on you while you’re on the go, the iPhone/iPad app, Atomic Browser Lite does the trick. Be sure, however, to enable private mode while browsing. The pro version of the app, which will only set you back $0.99 has the added advantage of blocking ads entirely from your browsing experience, using AdBlock. Dolphin, a browser available for both Android and iPhone users, which we’ve reviewed in-depth here Dolphin: A Smart, Hand Gesturing Mobile Web Browser [iOS + Android] Dolphin: A Smart, Hand Gesturing Mobile Web Browser [iOS + Android] With so many third-party web browsers available for the iPhone and iPad - including Atomic Web, iChromy, Opera Mini, iSwifter, and Dual Browser - one has to wonder what any enterprising developer could possibly come... Read More  is another great option for private browsing on the go. It would also be worth keeping an eye on DNT+ since they will be offering a mobile product “in the future.”

How do you stop social networks and sites from tracking you on the Web? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Franco Bouly

  1. Brandon Lockaby
    December 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I hate tracking cookies, They taste awful, and a bad for your health!

    • Brandon Lockaby
      December 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      correction: I hate tracking cookies, They taste awful, and are bad for your health!

  2. Abba Jee
    November 29, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Thank you very much for such useful information sharing with us :)

  3. Myster EE
    November 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Loved the release of this article, well done. I use several of these programs with various browsers and operating systems. One I do not see you mention is the reversal of blocking, instead it sends out fake data and searches to muddlefy any data being collected by systems that get around all the other blockers, name of this add on is Track-Me-Not, usually used with firefox, but can be made compatible with others.

  4. Srinivas N
    September 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Have been using DNT+ for a month. Amazed to see that i have blocked 17K times the tracking companies.. But i always whitelist Makeuseof.com on both DNT+ and adblock plus

  5. Aung Thu Htet
    September 9, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I have been used the ghostery in past and dislike it. Now I will test the another one.

  6. Rich Mc.
    September 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I have always used do not track plus and have found it to be really good at keeping sites from tracking me

  7. nikhil agarwal
    September 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I had to disable ghostery to login to the site. Is there a way so that I can only allow facebook/google/twitter and block all the others on a specific site in ghostery.

    • Nancy Messieh
      September 6, 2012 at 1:43 am

      You can choose to disable Ghostery on specific websites by clicking on the Ghostery button while you're on the site, click on 'Edit blocking options' and click on 'Don't block on http://www.makeuseof.com' (for example).

      If you want to be more selective, go into the Ghostery settings, and under 'Blocking options' - go to 'Widgets' - that's where you'll find all the social network trackers and you can uncheck them. Hope that helps!

  8. Ahmed Khalil
    September 3, 2012 at 10:52 am

    it is a big war between users and these companies and i thik it will not finish soon as i belive secret agents like FBI and KGP are part of it

  9. Kp Rao
    September 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    very useful

  10. Jahnezzy Eltime
    September 1, 2012 at 7:15 am

    skow

  11. venkatp16
    August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    looks interesting. I've installed DNT+ , let me check how it works out. Thnkx

  12. Jim Spencer
    August 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Thank You Guys for a great post and article! One of the most frustrating things about Facebook is that it seems tp permiate every part of your life, whether you want it to or not!

  13. Praveen pandey
    August 31, 2012 at 11:08 am

    thanks i will do it now

  14. MUO Fan
    August 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    A few more recommendations:

    GoogleSharing is a Mozilla addon that purports to "anonymize" Google searches so your location, IP, etc. aren't tracked. Highly useful with the build from RiseUp.net, a nonprofit activist collective whose mission it is to combat Internet tracking and support the freedom of the user.

    I also use the following Greasemonkey scripts: Don't Track Me Google, Google Images Direct Link, Google Result Privacy, and GooglePrivacy. Most of these remove the modified link Google uses when you click on a search result, which it uses to track your surfing habits by IP address.

    Adblock Plus has the "Antisocial" filter, which blocks requests from social widgets like Facebook Like Box, Twitter feeds, and Google Plus.

    Better Privacy is a Mozilla addon that blocks/deletes cookies left by Adobe Flash content, which is often in heavy use on social networks (such as YouTube and Facebook videos).

    Lynx is a text-based browser that doesn't pick up images or widgets on websites and allows you to view only the content. It predates the modern web by at least 7 years and is regarded as a useful program for persons with visual difficulties who only wish to see text un-obscured by images, widgets or other ancillary material. As it only reads the text on a webpage, it does not pick up JavaScript or other add-on code like Facebook like boxes or Flash videos. Richard Stallman himself is a fan.

    Or, here's an even better alternative: "Real life" is not available for download, but is something that you access when you're not wasting time on social network sites. I find this to be a much better option than taking part in Mark Zuckerberg's 24/7 pervcam on the window of the world. ;-) But when surfing the regular internet, it's helpful to use the above options. The best option for not being tracked by social networks when on social networks, however... is to not use them at all. XD

  15. Billy Tyler
    August 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Using Ghostery, amazing how many people don't know about tracking and such.

  16. Shehan Nirmal
    August 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    That's true... Those social networking media have become the major carrier of viruses and spams... But we can not stay without using them.. So, the best thing is to avoid tracking and use Social networks safely..

  17. Home Less
    August 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    "It’s really amazing that we lose our privacy at the same rate that technology improves. Thank you Make Use Of for sharing tools to enable us to remain at least somewhat private."

    I feel like that
    Useful article

  18. Cecilia McIntosh
    August 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Doesn't turning on "private browsing" in Safari's settings on the iPad accomplish the same thing?

    • MUO Fan
      August 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      I don't use Safari or the iPad, but "Private Browsing" is NOT the same as avoiding/blocking tracking -- it just means that few if any remnants will not stay on your computer/device when you close the browser. It doesn't do anything on Google/FB/Twitter's end. Firefox has a similar setting, and there's also Portable Apps which claim to serve the same purpose -- you can use them from a USB drive and leave no trace on the host computer, just your flash drive.

      Avoiding/blocking tracking means you block access to your private information where it comes from, by telling sites not to request information about your IP address and other personal information. Private browsing simply means that cookies, temporary files, etc. are deleted when you close the browser. It doesn't stop the access while Safari/Firefox/etc. is still running.

  19. Tom Bogan
    August 30, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Just tried the DNT and WOW didn't know all that junk was following me. Nice addition.

  20. Sarah Sheehan
    August 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Please forgive me for this question...
    Why should I care if social networks track where I go online? I don't visit any weird sites. I sometimes check out the ads that come up based on where I've been.
    There isn't a security risk that I can tell of...
    Can someone please explain?

    • killer
      August 30, 2012 at 2:55 am

      its about our safety... if facebook can track us, thats mean hackers can do it too.. its can prevent you to know your cookies history,,

    • Nancy Messieh
      September 6, 2012 at 1:37 am

      It's not about safety as much as it is about your privacy. You're providing these sites without valuable marketing information which is fine if you're ok with it. It's all about consumer awareness imo.

  21. susendeep dutta
    August 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Firefox browser has "Tell websites I do not want to be tracked " and IE 10 will have this feature.So,will this feature be adequate to what are offered via these addons,extension?

    • Nancy Messieh
      September 6, 2012 at 1:36 am

      It depends really on how much control you want to have over it. I'm not sure what features IE 10 will offer but if it's a matter of simply not letting them track you - then that should be sufficient. These apps give you a certain degree of control - does the inbuilt feature do the same?

      • susendeep dutta
        September 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

        These built-in features will ask the sites not to track them.It depends upon the site whether they follow this order or not.A good site must not track users.

  22. jose
    August 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Can one use "Do Not Track Plus" and "Ghostery" at the same time (AND is there any reason to do so)?

  23. holy cow
    August 29, 2012 at 4:27 am

    im pretty sure AVG comes with something like this also. it installs as a plugin for your browser

  24. Faisal Ahmed
    August 29, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Protection of privacy has really become a grave concern. I am already using DNT+ to handle the situation.

  25. Tug Ricks
    August 29, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I'm definitely on the Ghostery bandwagon. The UI is great, and gives me greater control over the information I'm giving out. Good stuff! My only complaint is that it doesn't work well with Adblock Plus on Chrome.

  26. Clyde Atwood
    August 29, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Installed DNT+ and so far, it's doing its job!

  27. Karl Couvillon
    August 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I logged into Make Use Of with my Facebook logon to read this article. Irony.

    • philip
      May 8, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      how do i use this app

  28. jumpy
    August 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    ironically, DNT+ blocked 2 social sites and 5 tracking companies on this page. haha

  29. Richard Borkovec
    August 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Ghostery has been one of my favorites for years now. It's super easy to use, very customizable, and can be turned on and off with no problems.

  30. Aditya Roy
    August 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Very useful! Gotta share..

  31. Nart Barileva
    August 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    i do think it's very good to keep certain parts of our lives private, but we all have to realize that some of your data is ok to be shared and will help make the entire internet more personalized to you, and so that websites can know their customers better

    • Tug Ricks
      August 29, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Good point. It's a very fine balance between privacy and convenience.

    • Nancy Messieh
      September 6, 2012 at 1:34 am

      It's fine if you're aware that it's happening. The problem isn't that they're tracking you as much as that it's being done without your knowledge. I think what's great about apps like this is that it lets you know who is tracking you and gives you the option to allow it or not. It's all about control.

  32. Shmuel Mendelsohn
    August 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    It's really amazing that we lose our privacy at the same rate that technology improves. Thank you Make Use Of for sharing tools to enable us to remain at least somewhat private.

    • Saad
      December 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

      please send me the details of this job

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