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

   How To Block Facebook And Other Social Networks From Tracking You OnlineWhenever 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.

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

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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42 Comments -

1 votes

Shmuel Mendelsohn

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.

0 votes

Saad

please send me the details of this job

0 votes

Nart Barileva

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

0 votes

Tug Ricks

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

0 votes

Nancy Messieh

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.

0 votes

Aditya Roy

Very useful! Gotta share..

0 votes

Richard Borkovec

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.

0 votes

jumpy

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

0 votes

Karl Couvillon

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

0 votes

Clyde Atwood

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

0 votes

Tug Ricks

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.

0 votes

Faisal Ahmed

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

0 votes

holy cow

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

0 votes

jose

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

0 votes

susendeep dutta

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?

0 votes

Nancy Messieh

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?

0 votes

susendeep dutta

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.

1 votes

Sarah Sheehan

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?

0 votes

killer

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,,

0 votes

Nancy Messieh

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.

0 votes

Tom Bogan

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

0 votes

Cecilia McIntosh

Doesn’t turning on “private browsing” in Safari’s settings on the iPad accomplish the same thing?

0 votes

MUO Fan

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.

0 votes

Home Less

“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

0 votes

Shehan Nirmal

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..

1 votes

Billy Tyler

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

0 votes

MUO Fan

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

0 votes

Praveen pandey

thanks i will do it now

0 votes

Jim Spencer

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!

0 votes

venkatp16

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

0 votes

Jahnezzy Eltime

skow

0 votes

Kp Rao

very useful

0 votes

Ahmed Khalil

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

0 votes

nikhil agarwal

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.

0 votes

Nancy Messieh

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!

0 votes

Rich Mc.

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

0 votes

Aung Thu Htet

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

0 votes

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

0 votes

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.

0 votes

Abba Jee

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

0 votes

Brandon Lockaby

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

0 votes

Brandon Lockaby

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