Facebook has become a vicious black hole sucking in all your data; the ones you generate while on the social media, other websites, and there are even claims it is getting your data while you are offline. One, Dylan McKay took to Twitter (@dylanmckaynz) to share screenshots of what appears Facebook logging metadata on his calls and every contact on his phone; even the ones he had deleted.
The social network is now receiving a lot of public anger and scrutiny following allegations that the research company Cambridge Analytica got hold of 50 million users’ private data illegally. The data could have been possibly used to carry out online propaganda with the intent of influencing voters around the world, in elections such as the U.S.A 2016 Presidential elections, the Brexit vote, Kenya 2017 Presidential Elections, and possibly even the last Presidential election in Nigeria that saw Buhari oust Jonathan.
Facebook is currently under a lot of fire for mishandling users’ data. Campaigns are going around calling for mass deactivation of Facebook account and pages by the users. One notable company to have deleted its Facebook Page is the Playboy magazine. They deactivated their Page which had millions of followers.
Firefox comes to the rescue
Mozilla Foundation has decided to capitalize on Facebook woes to drum up support for its Firefox browser extension, Containers. The Facebook Container extension on Firefox makes it virtually impossible for the social network to harvest your data outside the platform.
That means Facebook will no longer know what other websites you are visiting on other tabs, your browsing history, and all such information that it is used to collecting.
When you install the Facebook Container extension on your Firefox browser, the social network gets houses inside a Container, and it cannot know what you are currently doing in other tabs, or what you were doing earlier on. Though everything on Facebook will still work as usual.
The first time you install the extension, it will start by automatically deleting all previous Facebook cookies; that means you will have to log in again to continue using the social network. When you log back in and click on a non-Facebook link. It will open on a regular tab while clicking on Facebook Share link; it will open within a Facebook Container.
“Facebook Container isolates your Facebook identity from the rest of your web activity. When you install it, you will continue to be able to use Facebook normally. Facebook can continue to deliver their service to you and send you advertising,” said Nick Nguyen, the Product Strategist at Mozilla.
“The difference is that it will be much harder for Facebook to use your activity collected off Facebook to send you ads and other targeted messages.”
How does the Mozilla Container work?
The concept of Container was introduced to Firefox in September last year when Mozilla rolled out ‘Firefox Multi-Account Containers’ as an add-on to the browser. The Container works like any standard tab on Firefox or any browser works; one tab is isolated from the other tab(s); though they can access cookies generated by each other.
With Containers, no tab has access to cookies generated by the other tab(s). Typically, cookies are stored in one memory location by the browser, but with Firefox Containers, there are separate ‘cookie jars’ for each Container, and cookies generated by each individual Container is not accessible to other websites and app running on different Containers.
“If used carefully, Containers can prevent tracking. If a site is only opened in one Container, cookies on that Container cannot follow the user to other sites visited in non-Container tabs or other Containers,” – said Mozilla.
When you log into your Facebook account inside the Container tab, the tab will be coloured blue letting you know you are browsing inside a Container.
The Facebook Containers might have not been enough to stop Cambridge Analytica
While Mozilla seems quick to cash in on the storm currently hitting Facebook. The company also give a disclaimer that the Container might have not helped in stopping Cambridge Analytica get so much data on so many people off Facebook.
“But troves of data are being collected on your behavior on the internet, and so giving users a choice to limit what they share in a way that is under their control is important,” said Nguyen.
Mozilla also warns that while on Facebook Container, you will not be able to log in to other websites using your Facebook credentials. That means you cannot hit the ‘Like’ button or make a comment on sites that have embedded these Facebook features as a way of user’s engagement.
Mozilla remaining strong on Users’ Privacy and Security online
If there is one reputation Firefox has maintained over the years, then it is that it’s a privacy and security oriented browser. It might not score highly when it comes to speed, but is no mainstream browser that comes close to Mozilla Firefox when you are talking about user privacy and online security.
This latest development – Facebook Containers – only goes further to show Mozilla’s commitment to online privacy and security.
“This add-on offers a solution that doesn’t tell users to simply stop using a service that they get value from. Instead, it gives users tool that help them protect themselves from the unexpected side effects of their usage,” adds Nguyen.