Using privacy add-ons without breaking the internet
April 30, 2015 9:48 AM   Subscribe

What combination of Firefox privacy add-ons offers the most privacy while still retaining website functionality?

I use Firefox as my primary browser on a PC running Windows 7 (if that matters), and I keep it updated. I use add-ons like HTTPS Everywhere, Ghostery, Disconnect, and Ad Block Plus to protect myself while browsing. I do this because I am uncomfortable with the extent to which companies track users whether or not they use a service, collect uniquely verifying data, and so forth. The side effect of this seems to be that certain sites have limited or broken functionality when I try to browse or use them, and of late it seems to have gotten really bad. This ranges from pictures, videos, or gifs that refuse to load (Tumblr), being unable to leave comments (YouTube), or whole sites that load with the formatting too broken to use, if they load at all (Buzzfeed). I know that this must be an issue with Firefox and my add-on set because I sometimes will attempt to load the same pages in Chrome, which I have fewer add-ons installed to, or Opera, which I have no add-ons installed on, and whatever wasn't working before will work.

I know that ads and tracking are woven deeply into how some sites function, so for a privacy conscious person, visiting or using certain popular sites may just not be possible. But I wonder if I'm using the wrong add-ons, or if it's the wrong combination of add-ons that may be the problem. I'm interested in hearing about what other people are using that is working for them. As when combating viruses and malware, I want to protect myself as completely as possible without causing conflicts.

Thank you in advance for your time.
posted by koucha to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I use Firefox, uBlock, Privacy Badger, and Self-Destructing Cookies. If you are just reading pretty much everything works fine. On sites I want to stay logged into, or otherwise interact with in some way, I have to whitelist them in Privacy Badger and the cookie app. Privacy Badger is cool in that you can control the individual trackers, so I can allow Facebook if I want to use it to log-in, but still block the all the other ad trackers.
posted by COD at 10:12 AM on April 30, 2015


Some people might like to know that uBlock origin is now in Firefox add-ons, so they can get auto-updates. uBlock origin is the original project from gorhill and co, the other one is the hostile fork.
posted by devnull at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've not specifically focused on the privacy aspects, but I can recommend Cookie Monster and NoScript as useful tools for Firefox, as well as uBlock mentioned above.

I disable all javascript and cookies by default, and find it's easy to allow just what you need to for a working site, or to just temporarily allow everything at a site, when it's annoying to suss out what you need to allow.
posted by solitary dancer at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Self-destructing cookies is phenomenal for non-breaking privacy! It accepts all cookies from any site you visit, but nukes them all the moment you close the tab. When you need to keep things longer, you can tell it "keep cookies from this site until I close the browser" or just to keep them forever. It does the same thing for "local storage" data of all kinds, which is great at keeping your browser profile from taking up 50GB on disk!

I always held out hope that browsers would grow a "keep cookies only for sites I logged in to", but that's so semantically messy that this turns out to be a pretty good equivalent.

I'm a NoScript kind of guy (punch a button to turn javascript on for this site! Until I close the browser, or punch the shutoff button again!), and uBlock Origin, privacy badger, and disconnect are all humming away up in my toolbar.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 6:46 AM on May 3, 2015


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