Privacy Badger update blocks Facebook link tracking

By: Costea Lestoc
2 minute read
Privacy Badger block facebook link tracking

EEF launched a brand new version of Privacy Badger that provides a new way to protect your privacy both on and off Facebook. The feature aims Facebook’s ability to track users anywhere called link tracking.

How does link tracking work?

Facebook and more companies use a technique called link shimming that tracks the links that users click on their sites. When a user clicks on a link, the browser first requests Facebook information about who they are, their location and the place of navigation. Facebook will then redirect the user to the desired place. But, this is just regular shimming.

Facebook does something else. When the site first loads in the browser, all regular URLs are replaced with the platform’s l.facebook.com shim equivalents. When you hover over a URL, a piece of code replaces the link shim with the link you’re expecting to see. This means that when you hover over a link, it will look innocuous and the link shim gets stored in an invisible HTML.

That certain link takes you where you want to go, but when you click on it, there’s another code that releases a request to l.facebook.com in the background that will track you.


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Privacy Badger blocks the tracking code

Privacy Badger works by finding all link shims and replaces them with their unwrapped version and blocks the tracking code. Michael Ziminsky developed the foundation of this feature – the code for the extension Facebook Tracking & Ad Removal.

Privacy Badger can also block third-party trackers. According to Facebook, they include link shims to protect users from spammy or malicious links, but the platform’s system cannot properly do this. On the other hand, with this latest update, Privacy Badger is able to protect your privacy better compared to Facebook’s system.

EFF will continue to investigate all kinds of tracking used by Facebook, Twitter, Google and more in order to develop more protection features for users.

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