Isolating Facebook for Privacy

Based on lots of chatter about this on Facebook and on the sudden zombie-like reemergence of passive sharing in my Feed, I thought I’d share some basic steps to isolate Facebook completely from the rest of your browsing experience. There are other ways (using incognito / private browsing mode, e.g.), but this strikes me as easiest.

Why might you want to do this?

  • to avoid passive sharing
  • to make absolutely sure Facebook apps don’t have access to your everyday browser usage
  • to stick it to the Dark Arts people at Facebook by rendering their tracking cookie useless
  • for other reasons of both sensible and tinfoil-hat varieties

Disadvantages? Sure. Forget using the super-convenient “Log in with Facebook” functionality that many sites are offering these days. Also, a bit of user-interface overhead in having to switch back and forth between two different programs to look at links people post on Facebook, for example.

Nevertheless:

  1. Download and launch a program for creating site-specific browsers (SSBs).
    • On the Mac, your choices are pretty much Fluid or Prism, as far as I know. If you use Safari as your Mac’s main browser, then either use Prism or shell out $5 for the premium version of Fluid. (Maybe some savvy PC user can chime in about Windows options.)
  2. Follow the prompts to create a new SSB for facebook.com.
  3. Launch the new SSB and configure it to redirect all URLs outside *.facebook.com back to your main browser.
  4. In your main browser, clear all cookies that say “facebook” or “fb.”
  5. Never log in to Facebook from your main browser again.

Note to smartphone users: If you log in to Facebook on your phone’s browser, you undermine the total isolation of this approach.

Any questions, please leave ’em in the comments below so other folks can benefit from them. I’ll do my best to respond quickly.

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