How To Block Facebook And Other Social Networks From Tracking You Online

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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

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.

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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 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

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Comments (43)
  • Brandon Lockaby

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

    • Brandon Lockaby

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

  • Abba Jee

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

  • Myster EE

    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.

  • Srinivas N

    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

  • Aung Thu Htet

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

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.