Facebook and the cookie jar – Part II

It’s worth reading the political background to this post if you’ve not already done so: Facebook and the cookie jar

As bad as the recent Facebook news stories have been, it’s fairly unlikely many of us are going to stop using it – it’s just too useful as a way of keeping in touch with distant friends, and realistically, it’s not like there’s a decent alternative (yet!)

So what can you do to protect yourself against at least some of the Facebook overreach?

  • Delete the Facebook apps (both Messenger and the main app), and use Facebook services only via the website. With the exception of push alerts, you really aren’t losing anything by doing it this way.
  • If you want to keep access to Facebook Messenger, use one of the third-party tools that’ll connect with it. If you’re fairly tech-minded, you can set up an XMPP gateway, or if you’re not, there are other instant messaging clients available which will integrate with it. I use Trillian – available for Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android. Other options are no doubt available.
  • Make sure your web browser allows you to block third-party cookies (and make sure this option is enabled). Third-party cookies very rarely exist for your benefit, and are nearly always there for the benefit of the site owner and/or their advertisers, so it’s generally good practice to kill ’em off anyway.
  • Use an ad blocker. I use uBlock Origin; other options are available for both Chrome and Firefox (and there are no doubt other options for Safari/Edge). Make sure your ad blocker is set to block tracking images (aka ‘The Facebook Pixel’).
  • If you’re the sort of person who enjoys the little quizzes that appear periodically, make sure you don’t do any that ask you to login so they can ‘post your results to your timeline’ – by linking these to your Facebook profile, you are giving them access to all sorts of information, including (in many cases) your friends lists.

There are still many other methods by which Facebook can track you, so even with all of the above, be minded about what you post. If in doubt, assume anything on Facebook could – at any point – find its way into the public domain. If you aren’t happy about that, consider whether it might be better not to post that thing at all.


IT Consultant, Network Engineer, Photographer, Audiophile.

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