Lately, there has been a bit of an uproar about Facebook collecting information about the sites you visit even when logged out of their system. If you’re unfamiliar with this, basically it comes down to a cookie that Facebook stores info in that should be deleted once you’ve logged out, but in reality remains. This might not sound so sinister, but what happens – and again I stress this is even if you’ve logged out of Facebook and don’t even have their page open – is that any site you visit with a Facebook Like or Share button informs that cookie, which Mark Zuckerberg first denied, but has since become obvious.
Now, emphasis has been on people’s history of visiting porn sites soon to be seen by all when Facebook rolls out its Timelines feature, so many can become complacent since that doesn’t apply to them. But in this day and age, visiting a porn site could seem pretty normal, while looking up info on Islamic terrorist groups – however innocent your quest for knowledge – could be seen as suspicious.
And would you want everyone knowing you’ve been looking up info on a particular sexually-transmitted disease, or info on suicide, or heroin addiction, or how to clean a sniper rifle, when you were just curious, or actually helping a friend? Whatever the reason, you can fight back against Facebook’s invasion of your privacy, with steps outlined for altering your settings effectively (including a couple of optional ones that aren’t related to this issue, but will increase general security), and deleting Facebook’s cookie from the two most popular web browsers in Ubuntu, Firefox and Chromium.
Firefox Extension ShareMeNot
Now, before showing you how to limit Facebook’s intrusion via your own account settings, I’ll mention a Firefox add-on called ShareMeNot which, for most people, should actually be enough. You can actually be logged into Facebook and have your page open and this extension will still limit the tracking. You’ll notice that when at a page with a Like or Share button, you’ll need to sign in if clicking one of those, and then once again enter your password to successfully submit it. If you find yourself visiting a whole bunch of sites where you’d like to Share or Like without that fuss, you can simply disable ShareMeNot via Tools > Add-ons > Extensions, then re-enable it later.
Facebook Account Settings
Here are some things you can do via your account preferences when logged into Facebook, first in the Security Settings section (go to Account Settings, then click Security on the left), followed by Facebook Ads (go to Account Settings, then click Facebook Ads on the left), then Privacy Settings.
Click Edit after Secure Browsing and enable Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible.
Click Edit after Login Notifications and check either Email or Text message, or both if you desire. This will send you an email and/or SMS message each time your account is accessed from a computer or mobile device that you haven’t used before (OPTIONAL).
Click Edit after Login Approvals and enable Require me to enter a security code each time an unrecognized computer or device tries to access my account (OPTIONAL).
Click on both Edit third party ad settings and Edit social ad settings and make sure they are set to share with No one.
Click Edit Settings next to How You Connect and set each option to Friends.
Next, we disable the setting all the fuss is about: Instant Personalization. This is where partner sites can see your Facebook profile and information without you even being logged into Facebook (which is evident when you see your Facebook picture and name on these sites).
To disable it, click Edit Settings next to Apps and Websites, then click Edit Settings next to Instant Personalization, click Close on the ‘Understanding Instant Personalization‘ dialogue, uncheck Enable Instant Personalization, ignore the warning presented, and click Confirm.
You can also go back to the Privacy Settings page and set the default sharing permission to Friends. You may not really want this, but if you do decide all your posts shouldn’t automatically be Public, since you can now easily make individual posts public, then change the default here. Of course, you can also choose Custom and tailor your privacy settings manually.
Lastly, you can go back into Apps and Websites and click Edit Settings next to Apps you use to remove any applications that you no longer use. Alternatively, you can Turn off all platform apps if you want to leave them installed but temporarily disable them.
Delete Facebook’s Cookie in Firefox
Go to Edit > Preferences and in the Privacy tab click on remove individual cookies. When the Cookies dialogue box appears, scroll down the list of sites and select facebook.com (clicking the first entry and hitting your F key will get you there quicker), and click the Remove Cookies button (alternatively, you can click Remove All Cookies).
Delete Facebook’s Cookie in Chromium
Click the spanner icon in the top right corner of your browser, and click Preferences. In the Preferences tab you’ll notice 3 sections available via links at the top left: Basics, Personal Stuff and Under the Hood. Click Under the Hood, then the Clear Browsing Data… button.
A box will appear with a drop-down menu that says Obliterate the following items from:. You can leave it as the past hour if you recently logged out of Facebook, and probably only that cookie will be deleted, or if you want to delete all cookies select the beginning of time (alternatively, you can tailor the period from a day, week or month).
Make sure Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data is checked, then click the Clear Browsing Data button to proceed.
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