I enjoy social networking, but I’m also concerned about privacy. Those are two sides of the same coin, making it difficult to find a compromise. On the one hand, I want to use social network and share links, information and resources on the web. On the other, I don’t want companies to know too much about me, or third party entities to be able to track me, too easily.
Unfortunately, by using any of the big three social networks, Google, Facebook and Twitter, that’s just about impossible to avoid. Unless you log out of Facebook after every post you check or update you post, then visiting any other site that features some form of Facebook connectivity immediately allows Facebook to track you and improve the profile they have of you. Whether or not that information is as anonymous as they claim is irrelevant. The same of course, also goes for Google, Twitter and of the other larger social networks to whom you likely subscribe.
There are however, ways to seriously limit the information gathered and these three Firefox plug-ins by the authour Disconnect are one way to accomplish this. Facebook Disconnect, Google Disconnect and Twitter Disconnect automatically block requests by the respective sites to report information regarding your activity, by default.
However, you can also turn toggle these settings on or off, on a per site basis. Take a look at the sample below. One of my favourites sites, io9.com has links to all three major networks.
The fact that those icons are at the end of my address bar means that Disconnect has recognized requests between io9 and all three social networks, to share information. By default it has blocked them. However, clicking on any one of the icons allows me toggle the options for that particular site. Disconnect will then remember that setting the next time I visit.
I noticed for example, that I could not block the Google requests on the WordPress Dashboard while editing a post, as this disabled some of the functionality. However, toggling the request takes effect instantly, so I never had to leave the page in order for full functionality to be restored.
Visit the parent site @ Disconnect.me for more information and even more ways to protect yourself online.
I’ve also included these three plug-ins in my Favourites collection on the Mozilla site, that I’ve previously mentioned here.