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Keep Facebook from tracking you on the web

Keep Facebook from tracking you on the web
Photo from Firefox

If there is something positive to be gained from the recent Facebook fiasco it is that we now have a better understanding of what the social media site knows about us. We may not feel good about it, but at least we know.

What we do with that knowledge is totally up to us. Do we deactivate our account? Maybe we delete it altogether. Or, the decision could be to continue on but with stricter privacy controls.

Another bonus to it all is that since people are now concerned about such matters, tools are being produced to help us. One of them comes courtesy of Mozilla, who is the company behind the web browser Firefox.

Stop the tracking!

Facebook Container is a browser extension that sets out to prevent Facebook from tracking your online presence. Essentially, it opens Facebook up in its own separate tab, which will then keep its trackers from seeing what you do on other websites.

Sounds good, right?

Facebook Container is a natural step forward as we all begin to grapple with the amount of data sites like Facebook have collected on us. The pushback against it is not only natural but welcome.

Clearly, privacy concerns are real, and it may be up to browsers to help swing the pendulum the other way. In a blog post, Mozilla's Nick Nguyen said while Container will prevent Facebook from seeing all your web browsing, it will not prevent anyone from using Facebook as usual.

"This Add-On offers a solution that doesn’t tell users to simply stop using a service that they get value from," he said. "Instead, it gives users tools that help them protect themselves from the unexpected side effects of their usage."

Nguyen did admit that the kind of data collected in the Cambridge Analytica controversy would not have been stopped, but instead that this is a way to limit what Facebook could learn outside of what we choose to give it.

The downside

Though Facebook Container will help in some ways, it could also hurt in others. For instance, if you have linked your Facebook account to another service like Airbnb, Spotify or Quora, they may no longer function properly while using the extension.

There may be other side effects, such as embedded Facebook comments, shares and likes not showing up on other websites. To that point, Mozilla said that clicking on Facebook Share buttons in non-Container tabs will load them within Facebook Container and still pass the site's information to Facebook.

Along with that, Facebook Container cannot do anything about how Facebook handles data it already has or that you willingly provide in the future.

How to install Facebook Container

Ready to "contain" Facebook? Here's how to get this Firefox extension.

1. First, make sure you are using Mozilla's Firefox Quantum browser. It's a highly recommended browser with around-the-clock tracking protection.

2. Next, click on the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) in the upper-right corner of the browser then select Add-Ons. Or scroll down to find the blue box below the story.

3. On the Add-ons page, click on Extensions then search for "Facebook Container." It should show up as the first result.

4. Next, click install and a little "Add Facebook Container" popup box will appear. Choose "Add."

5. Congratulations! Your Facebook activity now has its own "Container." Enjoy your newfound privacy!

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