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I heard that Facebook from now on will monitor where I am surfing on the web.

What is the easiest way to prevent them from knowing what I am doing on the web (assuming I am not logged into Facebook)?

Suggestion: If I use two different browsers for browsing the web on the one hand and for Facebook on the other hand. Does this help?

I mean probably Facebook uses cookies to spy on my web traffic, and I assume that a cookie created in one browser has no way to monitor what I am doing in another browser...

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    Questions on Askubuntu need to be about Ubuntu; this is about browser settings and your behaviour on the web. Best method: don't use facebook. Nothing in Ubuntu is going to stop Facebook. – Rinzwind Feb 1 '15 at 11:41
  • I don't use FB yet. But it is really getting difficult with everyone having it. – lpdbw Feb 1 '15 at 13:46
  • Q: what is the right place to ask such question? It is not a question about a specific browser! Just thought that people here are also sensitive when it comes to protecting their privacy from FB and hence might be able to help ... and I am using Ubuntu so asking here seemed reasonable. – lpdbw Feb 1 '15 at 14:40
  • Probably best place for such questions is: webapps.stackexchange.com – landroni Feb 1 '15 at 16:59
  • The question is about how to protect privacy on ubuntu. From this point of view, it is definitely supposed to be here. You are looking from the answers view. But what if there was a linux-only app that uses adblock-like lists to adjust your host file? Also, two aspects that weren't covered by any answer yet: Ubuntu has built in social account support. And Webapps. Does this affect FB tracking (something ip based or so)? Can the use of Webapps help (cookies)? It's something the average ubuntu user can't know. I think this question belongs here. – verpfeilt Feb 1 '15 at 19:37
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Update 2017

While my old answer below is still my recommendation (I updated it), Firefox has a new Testpilot Feature that does exactly what you want: It allows you to use internally a different browser for different webpages if you want to. You can also automate this process and therefore make less mistakes. This feature will probably included by default in a future Firefox release this year (2017). So, give it a try, use Firefox, browse to https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/containers and follow the instructions.


old, but not outdated answer

Using two different browsers could partially help. But I remember reading about non-Facebook users getting tracked by Facebook on third-party sites. They probably just wait for you to log in. It's better than nothing, but just do a mistake once and they got you ;)

Once they have the connection between your second browser and your account, they can always see who you are based on some new HTML5 canvas tracking techniques for example (no cookies needed). I don't know whether they use this, but basically it's possible. Also it's a lot of work and distracts your workflow. I wouldn't do it, but maybe someone can rate this on a more professional level.

I use (and recommend) a combination of Firefox addons to protect privacy. Note that addons for your browser in general can make browsers slower, e.g. on older computers. Especially if you add too many lists in ad blockers. I recommend one or two good lists.

  • uBlock Origin: A good ad blocker will block most ads and tracking stuff based on lists. I do not recommend AdBlockPlus, because they have a strange business model, and they had some legal arguments at least here in Germany. I didn't find any good English source, but fact is they have a conflict of interests, because they are working with and getting money from companies to whitelist their ads under some criteria (they call it "Acceptable Ads"). So better ignore AdBlockPlus, if your concern is about your privacy.

    Download: uBlock Origin

  • Privacy Badger: This is a work-in-process plugin that does not work with lists, but with algorithms. It's developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to protect privacy. Still, it's in development and (probably) not yet perfect, so I use it together with AdBlockEdge. There is no configuration required.

    Download: Privacy Badger

  • HTTPS Everywhere: This enables HTTPS when possible, even if some sites do not support it by default or in a broken way (that is, you are on https, but as soon you click on a hyperlink, it's gone). It is also developed by the EFF. There is no configuration required.

    Download: HTTPS Everywhere


A few words about Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger rates every connection to "green", "yellow" and "red". Red means blocked, green means not blocked. Yellow means that only cookies from this connection are not accepted. I recommend to stay with the rating of privacy badger as long as everything works. You can easily change this though through a slider for every connection.

Screenshot on heise.de

This means that it will do compromises (yellow), trying not to break the sites functionality.

Solutions for Website Operators

Of course it is disappointing to see that your favorite sites are not really caring about your privacy. You could ask them to improve, e.g. by using the "Sharriff", which generates new sharing buttons without tracking support. They do not use the default sharing buttons, but simply generate a URL to your social network. So you only get tracked when you click on a sharriff button. Basically, it's like manually sharing the link and it looks pretty normal to the user. It's available on GitHub and was initiated by heise.de, a big German technology magazine publisher.

https://github.com/heiseonline

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  • AFAIK AdBlockPlus has nothing to do with AdBlock except some common name. It's sort of a Java - JavaScript situation. – bolov Feb 1 '15 at 17:47
  • Right, I'll improve it in a minute. According to Wikipedia (german and english version) and the AdBlock website, AdBlock Plus is a Fork of AdBlock. Although this is not the same AdBlock which I recommended. The old AdBlock is not in development anymore and it seems the new AdBlock is a completely new development, although I'm not 100% sure of that. – verpfeilt Feb 1 '15 at 18:39
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Facebook mainly uses the Facebook Like buttons installed on the web pages you visit to track where you went and are. This button injects an iframe that stores cookies on your computer, and cross references all the web pages you visit.

To prevent this, I'd recommend the Adblock Extension, which, alongside blocking advertising on the pages you visit, has an option to block social network like buttons.

Adblock: https://getadblock.com

If you are really really nervous (read: paranoid, in a good way), use the Tor browser. https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

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    But still I wonder whether cookies I get when I surf with one browser can communicate with websites I visit with another browser. So what is your opinion about my suggestion using two different browsers? – lpdbw Feb 1 '15 at 11:08
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    AdBlock plus had some huge legal issues here in germany. Companies claimed they were asked to pay money to AdBlockPlus to get on whitelists and things like that. It's related to AdBlockPlus idea of unblocking non-distracting ads. It does not seem that they are covering privacy, their focus seems to be just about the visual thing. Better use AdBlockEdge on Firefox or Adblock on Chrome if you are concerned about privacy. Unfortunately, I haven't found a good english source to read more about that. The german site heise.de reported about this frequently a while ago. (heise.de/-2249363) – verpfeilt Feb 1 '15 at 12:51
  • I corrected the url to point to Adblock, and not AdBlock plus. – pixeline Feb 3 '15 at 18:54

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