from Fast Company
It’s not paranoia: You are being followed. Marketers are embedding dozens of trackers per website to follow your online wanderings and build up ad-targeting profiles. While the dominant browser, Google Chrome, takes a timid approach to these trackers, Apple and now Mozilla are attacking them head on.
Firefox first started blocking all trackers by default in its experimental browsers in July and in a wide release in September. Since then, Firefox has blocked 450 billion tracking attempts, says Selena Deckelmann, the senior director of Firefox browser engineering at Mozilla. That comes out to 175 trackers per Firefox browser per day.
“I’m a specialist in privacy on the web, and it still was pretty shocking to see those numbers all added up,” she says.
Now, users will have yet another tool to help them understand the ways that marketers follow them around online. Today, Mozilla is rolling out a new version of Firefox, called Release 70, with a Privacy Protections dashboard screen in your settings that helps explain how those billions of trackers work—and what Firefox is doing about them. The new upgrades fit into the mission of making privacy and security easier to understand and act upon for the majority of us who don’t geek out on the subject, Deckelmann says. It’s yet another reason to consider a switch to Firefox if you haven’t already.
So-called third-party cookies are perhaps the best known trackers. The small files reside in your browser and report back to marketers the sites you visit. Other Firefox-blocked trackers use code in online ads and code in those social media “share” buttons on web pages to record your visits to them. Also blocked are cryptominers—hidden scripts that hackers use to commandeer your computer to generate cryptocurrency, like bitcoin.
With Firefox 70, you can look under the hood to see how it blocks all these trackers, in real time. When I visited FoxNews.com, for instance, Firefox reported finding 64 cookies and six social media trackers. It found 43 cookies and three social media trackers on FastCompany.com.