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Use Firefox? Mozilla wants your help to see how nosy Facebook really is

Social media has been around long enough to see children grow into adults and young people enter middle age. Facebook launched in 2004 and has become the largest social network in the world, with billions of active users.

Whether you joined Facebook 15 years ago or five years ago, there’s probably stuff you’ve posted that you’d rather keep in your circle of friends. It could be a photo from your sophomore year spring break or a post about a celebrity who has since been involved in a scandal. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to hunt down all your posts to hide them from the public. Tap or click here for instructions on getting this done in one step.

It’s no secret that Facebook plays fast and loose with its users’ privacy but how exactly? Mozilla researchers partnering with The Markup are launching what they call the “Facebook Pixel Hunt” study. In simple terms, it tracks Facebook to see how it tracks users.

Always watching

Facebook admits that it tracks your likes, posts, engagement time, location, hashtags, groups pages and more for the sake of targeted advertising.

Want to get a better idea of everything about you that’s being tracked? Facebook is launching its Privacy Center, where you can learn about how your data is collected and also review the myriad of security and privacy settings all in one place. Tap or click here to check out our report.

Tracking you across the web

The Facebook Pixel Hunt study focuses on Facebook’s pixel tracking technology, which website developers can add to their site’s code. This lets the sites track Facebook users on their site, then target them with ads. That data, in turn, is shared back with Facebook to use for its own purposes.

The study intends to map Facebook’s pixel tracking network and get a better look at the kind of information it collects about users on different websites.

The Markup says it will use the information to conduct investigative journalism into Facebook’s tracking and data use. The study will run until July 13, 2022.

Signing up

If you’d like to become part of the study, know that this will involve data collection as well. In order to see what Facebook tracks, Mozilla and The Markup need to track you as well. The authors of the study say that the data will not be shared with third parties and all aggregation and analysis of the data will be done in Mozilla’s “secure analysis environment,” after which all raw data will be deleted. Finally, The Markup will only use aggregated, anonymized data for its reporting.

If you want to participate, you don’t need to do much beyond installing a browser extension that collects the following information:

  • The data sent to Facebook pixels as you browse
  • The URLs of the web pages you browse
  • The time you spend browsing pages
  • The presence of Facebook login cookies in your browser
  • A study survey that you will complete
  • Metadata on the URLs your visit

You need to have the Firefox browser to take part in the study, but it may come to other browsers in the future. Join the waitlist at rally.mozilla.org/join.

Keep reading

It’s been a rough week for Facebook – Here’s how to say goodbye for good

Does Twitter’s new photo rule protect your privacy or is it just a waste of time?

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