Blocking Facebook Social Plugins

Update - 7 June 2012

While this method will certainly still work, I came across a nice plugin today that's more expansive and much easier to set up (just install it). It claims to block you from being tracked by around 600 sites/services and continues to add more as necessary. Check it out: Do Not Track Plus.

While it has some potentially cool features, the new social plugins for Facebook give off an altogether creepy vibe.

The plugins allow web developers to add neat little widgets in iframes on their site. These let their users do things like "like" a photo, blog, site or whatever or add a fully-fledged comment system hosted by facebook. Anytime someone interacts with it, it's immediately posted to their newsfeed on their Facebook page and shared with all their friends.

Pretty cool, right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, because it instantly connects your website into the heart of Facebook's massive network and potentially gives you lots of free publicity from people who actually use your site.

No, because it gives Facebook the ability to track their members' browsing habits anywhere on the web.

Whether you interact with the social plugin or not, the iframe is calling Facebook with an ID that I can only assume is unique to the website you're currently on.  At the same time, Facebook checks to see if you're currently logged in, so that if you do choose to interact, it knows who's profile to post to.

The problem here is that Facebook now has everything they need to link you personally to the website you're visiting, the moment you open the page.

Whether they are actually using it for this purpose, I don't know, but they certainly have the resources if they wanted to.

Well that's great, how can you opt-out? Well you can't. Facebook did provide an opt-out for their related "Instant personalization pilot program partnerships", but not for social plugins.

What does Facebook tell you to do? Simple. Don't interact with the plugin, and you won't have anything posted to your Facebook page. Nice. Thanks Facebook.

But that's not a solution.

Thankfully, I think I found one.

Download Ad Block Plus for Firefox and add the following filter:

|https://www.facebook.com/plugins/*
|http://www.facebook.com/plugins/*
|http://www.facebook.com/widgets/*
|http://connect.facebook.net/*
|http://static.ak.connect.facebook.com/*
|http://static.ak.facebook.com/*

With these in place, Facebook should never be informed of your whereabouts in the first place, and you won't see any plugins anywhere on the net.

1 Comments

Frank Parsons #1 914 days ago
I have added all these Ad Block filters, Ghostery, Do not track plus, etc yet I still get the Facebook social plugin when I visit Yahoo news sites. If I block the plugin I cannot post to the site.

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Web Programmer. Shutterbug. New Father. Enjoying life in New Zealand.

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