As web browsers go, Mozilla Firefox is considered one of the industry leaders. That’s why it has consistently been in the top three for most widely used browsers for the past several years. But the company’s most recent full-launch to version 42 has a new feature, one that can be incredibly helpful in protecting your privacy if you know how to use it.
If you’ve ever searched for a product online—say, a new lawn mower—you’ve probably noticed an abundance of lawn and garden ads cropping up on the other websites you visit. That’s because of the tracking capabilities of web browsers. In a really oversimplified explanation of the algorithms behind the web code, your search history has been picked up and shared with companies who specialize in internet-based advertising. That means the things you search for and the websites you use are followed for the purposes of creating a profile on you and your interests. That profile can then be used to target you with specific attempts at advertising.
One way to look at the issue is to consider it the price of using the internet. After all, it might be intrusive but it’s not illegal. It’s also covered in the terms of service of almost every associated business, including other web browsers. You basically agreed to be tracked when you turned on your computer and connected to the internet. Additionally, it’s these advertisements that keep the price of websites down, meaning more people can access web content. Other supporters of this kind of tracking point also out that it actually helps consumers; if you’re in the market for a new lawn mower, wouldn’t you want to know about the best deals out there?
Unfortunately, security experts warn that advertisers aren’t the only ones who can use this exact same browsing feature against you. Anyone who knows how, can use the same technology to see, record, and respond to the things you do online.
Mozilla’s version 42 of Firefox now includes advanced anti-tracking functions that are designed to prevent others from seeing your internet activity. It allows you to block others from monitoring your searches and your traffic, as well as blocks many of the ads that annoy internet users and slow down the loading time of websites.
So how do you enable this feature? All you have to do is open up the Firefox web browser, and go to the menu. The menu is in the upper right hand corner and looks like three stacked lines. Then you will click on ‘options’, ‘privacy’ and check the box that says “Request that sites not track you”. You will then have turned on the Do Not Track feature. Pretty simple huh?
Firefox is not the only browser to look at how to protect its users from being tracked. Other browsers have already offered tracking and ad blocking protections, which may be a sign that the industry is getting a little fed up with having consumers’ personal activities—and potentially their payment information, activities, and locations—stored and shared. Regardless of the browser you use, it’s important to keep in mind that this kind of tracking protection could potentially cause some websites not to load properly or prevent some content like videos from not playing at all. In those instances, the user can disable the tracking blocker feature while using those pages.