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I want Facebook to only know about when I visit Facebook!
May 4, 2010 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I want to block any Facebook/OpenGraphProtocol content ("like" buttons, javascript etc) from any website I visit, but I still want to be able to visit the Facebook site directly. How can I do that?

Given all the privacy issues with Facebook, I would like to block all of their content unless I am visiting the Facebook site directly. Part of the reason for this is that apparently Facebook can still track which sites you visit even if you never click the like button.

Why not just delete my Facebook account? The main reason is that I want to be able to educate my family members on maintaining their privacy on Facebook (which settings to use, when settings change, etc), and ironically Facebook seems to be the best way to do that.

Ideally I would like a plug-in that allows me to say "Unless I am on the Facebook site, block anything from facebook.com/opengraphprotocol.org/etc", but anything that accomplishes the same goal would be great.

Thanks!
posted by TheyCallItPeace to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I believe it might be possible to achieve what you want, but it would be easier, to install a second browser. Keep your normal browser, blocked to all facebook content, and when you wish visit Facebook open up your second browser and enjoy.
posted by digividal at 10:08 AM on May 4, 2010


I believe the NoScript extension for Firefox will do what you want. You can allow certain sites, or even just certain content on sites.
posted by OmieWise at 10:10 AM on May 4, 2010


Adblock Plus can do this in a couple of ways:
1) Create your own filter with domain restrictions
2) Create your own element hiding rule limited to certain domains
3) Hide the element with a point and click using Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper
posted by pants tent at 10:24 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems like AdBlock Plus has the ability to do this... but I'm not sure I understand how to write the rule. I'd love to know, though.

There are two interesting options, one is a rule for blocking certain things with a domain restriction, the other is writing rules with a third-party option.

It seems like you could either write a rule that would block facebook.com requests where the page is NOT facebook.com, or you could write a rule to block third-party facebook.com requests.
posted by odinsdream at 10:33 AM on May 4, 2010


RequestPolicy is another good Firefox extension. You can use it to allow specific cross-site requests. I use it for similar tasks.
posted by Nick365 at 10:36 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can disable the display of these things in facebook's privacy settings, under "applications and websets". But as to whether this prevents them from tracking cross-site usage, I have no idea, but my guess would be no; people have been tracking this kind of stuff with cookies for years now and facebook is the least of your worries.
posted by advil at 10:38 AM on May 4, 2010


Hmm just to be clear, I may have been talking about something different than the OP, in particular, the partner program with yelp etc. I'm not sure you can opt out of the "social plugins", but supposedly they don't do anything just by viewing (according to the fb privacy faq). The partner program I was talking about is the one that does.

I use noscript, and not whitelisting facebook.net is enough to not display the social plugins. The main facebook page doesn't seem to use that site, at least right now.
posted by advil at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2010


Someone will surely come up with a FF extension for this, though I think your concerns are very overblown. (Disclaimer: I develop on the FB platform. I was at f8 when all this was discussed.)

TheyCallItPeace: apparently Facebook can still track which sites you visit even if you never click the like button.

I can't say they'll never do it, but I can say with fair certainty they're not doing it and don't really care much about it. Are you hearing this from any reputable places?

Here's what FB is interested in: Profiling you by the things you choose to identify with ("Like").
Here's what FB is not interested in: Traffic data. There's just too much noise to sift through. This data has also been collected several times over on you already by any of the large ad-serving networks.

There was an illuminating discussion a while back about grocery club cards and privacy- someone who actually worked in that area said that supermarkets don't have the time, inclination, or expense to do anything remotely privacy-invasive with your purchase history.
posted by mkultra at 11:19 AM on May 4, 2010


If you use Chrome, there's a fairly simple extension called LikeBlock. The source looks like it could be converted into a Greasemonkey script with minimal effort.
posted by Partial Law at 11:34 AM on May 4, 2010


someone who actually worked in that area said that supermarkets don't have the time, inclination, or expense to do anything remotely privacy-invasive with your purchase history.

Well, they certainly do when in collaboration with Yahoo Research, and studies like this are probably the way of the future. (Paper here) Note also though that they are using a third-party company to anonymize the match between the retailer's database and yahoo's database. (I am assuming the retailer was something like a supermarket with one of these cards, based on their confidence that they can line up 90% of purchases with someone in their db.)
posted by advil at 11:35 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you want to read how to opt out of Facebook's personalization.
posted by canine epigram at 1:16 PM on May 4, 2010


Here is the filter I added to adblock to do this:

|http://www.facebook.com/widgets/like.php?*

I also added this one to get rid of display elements

|http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/rsrc.php/*/hash/*

This will break facebook it self though so you need to add an exception for facebook.com if you are going to use this.


I also use the selective cookie delete add-on for firefox , so I can delete facebook cookies when I'm not actually on the site itself.
posted by tallus at 2:02 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just dug up this NYT article a while ago about how Canadian Tire had gone through all of it's card holder's purchases, as well as other stores and establishments that they'd used their card at to correlate people's purchases with their likelihood of missing payments.

So the idea that they're not "doing anything" with the data isn't really true. Who knows what they might decide to do with it in the future now that technology is for this stuff is getting better and easier to use.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on May 4, 2010


delmoi: So the idea that they're not "doing anything" with the data isn't really true.

Why, because a credit card company did profiling of its customers? How, exactly, do you go from that to "Facebook is doing it, too?" It's part of a CC company's core business to understand the risk represented by their customers; it's not part of FB's core business to care about your browsing habits. That line of logic is about two steps away from just making stuff up.
posted by mkultra at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2010


it's not part of FB's core business to care about your browsing habits.

Facebook is an advertising company. Their core business is served best by describing your preferences accurately to their customers: advertisers. Currently they do this with your friends list and other data you provide. If they can get additional information from other sources it's perfectly reasonable to assume they would use that information.
posted by odinsdream at 6:51 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why, because a credit card company did profiling of its customers? How, exactly, do you go from that to "Facebook is doing it, too?"
Well, I was responding to this:
There was an illuminating discussion a while back about grocery club cards and privacy- someone who actually worked in that area said that supermarkets don't have the time, inclination, or expense to do anything remotely privacy-invasive with your purchase history.
I probably should have quoted that. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 10:49 AM on May 5, 2010


I opted out of Facebook's personalization, but if Facebook can still gather data about which sites I visit, I am not too happy (I used PrivacyChoice to opt out of every other reasonable tracking site which allows opting-out. I know they can only be trusted as far as you can throw them, but ...)

In fact, right around the same time, I removed pretty much all of my "likes" from my profile (bands, books, movies, etc.)

Today, when I logged in to my profile, Facebook asked me if I wanted to have my profile linked directly to the web pages of those bands, books, movies, etc I liked. Even though I supposedly deleted that information. So I am not keen on trusting Facebook with any information at all, basically. And then there was this security hole which let any of your friends in Facebook read your chats, and god knows what else.

I am taking digividal's suggestion, and created a Fluid app for Facebook, and blocked Facebook from all my other browsing. Facebook is now quarantined.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 9:35 AM on May 6, 2010


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