Firefox foils Facebook data-flinging with new Mozilla container extension

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

If you’re worried about what data Facebook may or may not be collecting after the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the good people at Mozilla have a workaround.

Facebook Container Extension, an extension of Firefox’s multi-account containers, enables users to browse Facebook while isolating identity into a separate blue tab, meaning users can play all the quizzes they like – this reporter assumes it is still a thing – without fearing that the API will send data left, right and centre. “There’s a lot of value in your social data,” a blog post from Mozilla reads. “It’s important to regularly review your privacy settings on all sites and applications that use it.”

Those who use the container will most likely see changes from their usual Facebook usage, all to stop data getting away. For instance, embedded social buttons outside the container tab – such as the one at the top of this site – will not work, while non-Facebook links clicked on within Facebook will load outside of the container.

Mozilla added it did not harvest any data from the container itself, just the number of downloads.

Earlier this week Mozilla said it was ‘pressing pause’ on its Facebook advertising. “We are encouraged that Mark Zuckerberg has promised to improve the privacy settings and make them more protective,” the company said at the time. “When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.”

Today, Facebook responded with an overhaul of its security and privacy settings, making controls easier to find and use, as well as greater clarity on tools which can help users download and delete their Facebook data.

Writing in a blog post, Erin Egan, Facebook chief privacy officer, said these updates had ‘been in the works for some time’, but were pushed ahead through recent events. “Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data,” Egan wrote.

Earlier this week, as this publication reported, Google researcher François Chollet argued that increasingly smart AI algorithms will ‘simultaneously have a complete view of everything we do and believe, and complete control of the information we consume.’

Google, of course, is no stranger to data collection itself – a piece from data consultant Dylan Curran published earlier today gives an idea of what both companies hold on users – and referencing criticism of his employer, Chollet added there was ‘only one company where the product is an opaque algorithmic newsfeed” and that ‘has shown time and time again to have morally bankrupt leadership.’

You can read more about the Firefox Facebook Container Extension here.

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