Security

How to protect yourself on Facebook using a simple Firefox extension

If you depend upon Facebook for your business but want more control over your data, what should you do? Installing the official Mozilla Facebook Container extension might be your best option.

You can't toss a stone without hitting some negative Facebook press these days. And with good cause. Facebook has done users across the globe a disservice by not protecting their data from those who might take advantage of such information. The court of public opinion has weighed in heavily, even with the short-lived #DeleteFacebook hashtag. Plenty of articles have gone to great lengths to outline how users can either gain control over their data or delete the social networking service altogether.

But for some, deleting Facebook from their lives isn't quite that simple. Some businesses and freelancers depend upon the juggernaut for either promoting products or keeping in contact with fans, clients, or potential customers. It's a double-edged sword that few want to fall on.

If you happen to be a member of those who depend upon Facebook, what do you do? Yes, you can configure your settings to better protect yourself, but is there something else? If you're a user of Firefox, there is. Mozilla has created a new extension, called Facebook Container, which prevents Facebook from tracking users around the web. The extension works by isolating Facebook identities into a separate container that makes it much harder for Facebook to track with cookies. Upon installation, the extension will delete all Facebook cookies and force you to log out of Facebook. Any link clicked within Facebook will be opened outside of the container and any action that would occur within Facebook, such as sharing, happens inside the container.

SEE: Privacy Policy (Tech Pro Research)

Shoring up your data

This official Mozilla extension does not prevent Facebook from using any data it already has, in any way. To that end, it would behoove all users to set out to configure any and all Facebook accounts such that they don't allow Facebook to gain access to all of your data. How you do this will depend upon how you access Facebook. From a desktop browser, you can open up Facebook, click the profile drop-down, click Settings | Ads and then disable all three options under Ad settings (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Disabling Facebook ads settings.


From within that same window, click on Your interests and delete everything. Do note, this process can take quite some time.

Next, go to Settings | Apps and delete any apps you don't want associated with Facebook (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Removing websites currently connected to Facebook.


To be safe, delete them all. You will then discover some of your apps are no longer logged in. When you go to log back into a third-party app, I would recommend not logging in with your Facebook credentials. Why? Because next we're going to disable that option altogether.

From within the same window, click on the Edit button for Apps, Websites and Games. Read the warning and if you're okay with the results of shutting off this feature, click Turn off.

Now that you've shored up your Facebook data a bit, let's install the Facebook Container extension.

SEE: Securing Facebook: Keep your data safe with these privacy settings (ZDNet)

How to install the Facebook Container extension

The installation of the Facebook Container is as simple as installing any other extension. Here's how:

  1. Open up Firefox.
  2. Point your browser to the extension page.
  3. Click Add to Firefox.
  4. When prompted, click Add.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.

Once you've installed the extension, close out any tab containing Facebook if you have one open, and then point your browser back to the Facebook page. You will be prompted to log back in. When you do, you will notice the Facebook tab has a blue line indicating it has been opened within the container (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The Facebook Container extension in action.


A little extra protection goes a long way

And that's all there is to installing and using the official Mozilla Facebook Container extension. Although it won't protect your data that Facebook already has, it will certainly help to protect the social juggernaut from further dipping their fingers into your data. In the age of rampant data theft and abuse, every little bit of extra protection will go a long way to keep your information from landing in the wrong hands.

Also see

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Image: James Martin/CNET

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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