Adblock Plus Users Can Now Block Social Media Tracking
The ad blocker also allows users to block ads on YouTube and Facebook.
After the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, many social media users are wary of using Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms for fear that their personal information will be misused or sold. Adblock Plus is trying to restore control to users by notifying users when their data is being tracked by social media sites and to block that social media tracking on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
In this video, Adblock Plus explains that social media sites like Facebook employ tracking mechanisms even when users aren’t on their sites. For example, if a reader is on The New York Times website and ‘likes’ a particular article, Facebook can track that user, whether or not they are logged onto Facebook.
According to Adblock Plus, even when you don’t click on social media sharing buttons, your browser data is tracked, allowing sites like Facebook to create a profile based on your internet browsing habits. The ad blocking company now offers a solution to disable social media sharing in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome by following a few simple steps. These changes are part of the company’s latest release, Adblock Plus 3.0.3 released on April 25.
‘We are passionate about educating our users on the importance of privacy and data protection. Social media icons that appear in online articles, for example, track you, build a profile on you and store this information. Many users aren’t aware of this or that this can be prevented with Adblock Plus,’ wrote Jeen Low in a blog post.
‘With the new dedicated “Privacy and Security” section, users can easily manage the different forms of tracking through simple checkboxes and clear tooltip explanations,’ Low added.
In a related move, Apple is working on a notification feature to tell users when their data is being transferred to Facebook. It is expected to be released this fall. Adblock Plus is asking its users if this is a privacy feature they are interested in. If so, they are being asked to complete a brief survey. That notification might look something like this.
‘At Adblock Plus, we’re all about user choice, and we’re more than happy to see other companies champion this cause,’ said Tom Woolford in a June 8 Adblock Plus blog post. ‘Apple’s recent announcement at WWDC 2018 that they are taking a hard line on social media tracking is great news for users, and a slap in the face for unscrupulous companies that value data above all else.’
If companies like Apple are taking a hard line against the tracking of personal data by social media sites, it is likely that other companies aren’t far behind. This is particularly true in light of the implementation of GDPR on May 25. While those data collection and protection rules apply to consumers in the European Union, we anticipate other jurisdictions will follow their lead. Apple and Adblock Plus will get the upper hand as early adopters of new data protection standards, providing a better, safer web experience.