Firefox Update Blocks Third-party Cookies from Facebook, Google, and Advertisers
Firefox web browser was updated again to improve privacy for its users. Mozilla Corporation announced the update to Firefox which takes aim at major tech companies like Google and Facebook that track web users’ behavior across websites and sell that data to advertisers. The new Firefox update has cookie trackers blocked by default. Firefox users can still opt in or out of tracking if they so choose.
The goal is to stop thousands of companies that track and access web users’ personal data. New Firefox users will see that Enhanced Tracking Protection is turned on by default. Current Firefox users must adjust their privacy settings to block third-party cookies if they want the same protection from pervasive tracking and collection of personal data by ad networks and tech companies.
Mozilla noted in their release announcement that “25% of web page loads in Firefox take place in a Private Browsing window.” While this is good for hiding your web activity from others who use your computer, it does not block third-party trackers that Facebook, Google, and other advertisers use to track your behavior across the web.
Firefox will block more 2,500 tracking websites by default and will be updating the blocked list over time. As always, Firefox users can adjust their settings to block cookies, and choose which websites they allow tracking. When web users have a lot of pages and settings to go manage they may give up on achieving the privacy settings they want.
Chrome’s Incognito mode does not prevent third-party tracking.
What is Firefox?
Mozilla Firefox, officially Firefox Quantum, is an open-source web browser owned by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation. Firefox web browser is available for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, as well as other operating systems.
As of March 2019, Firefox Quantum has 9.58% of the global web browser market.  Chrome is the leading web browser with over 69% of the market. Firefox has been losing market share for the past four years.
Is Firefox Quantum Different from Firefox?
Firefox Quantum is the official name given to Firefox since the late 2017 update. Firefox Quantum brought improved speed and less memory usage for the web browser. Most people refer to Firefox Quantum as simply just Firefox.
Which is Latest Version of Firefox?
Firefox Quantum 67 is the latest version released on May 21, 2019. Firefox Quantum version 67 brought improved usability and security improvements. Users could choose which extensions to exclude from private tabs and to save passwords while in private browsing mode.
This new version of Firefox has more stringent cookie blocking features enabled by default. Previously, privacy settings were set to standard when a new user downloaded and installed the web browser. Firefox will still be set to standard, but this setting will now block third-party cookies right out of the box. It used to be that third-party cookies were blocked only when in private mode.
What is a Web tracking Cookie?
A web tracking cookie is a snippet of computer code written to a web users’ computer, phone, or other devices. It is used to identify and track the device, and thus the person as they use websites an apps. Cookies are divided into first-party cookies and third-party cookies. Many cookies are useful for user experience, like website language preferences. For example, a website may store your username and login as a first-party cookie and that’s okay. However, many websites use third-party services that track your behavior and web usage, with cookies, across every website you visit, without your consent. This is what Firefox blocks.
Firefox Password Manager – Lockwise
Firefox monitor is also being updated. This Firefox update is also the official launch of Mozilla’s new password manager, Firefox Lockwise. While not a full featured password manager, Lockwise is free and includes a dashboard to view and manage saved passwords across all devices. Lockwise mobile app users can only view login information saved while using the desktop version of Lockwise. Desktop Lockwise has the most options where users can edit, create and view all saved login credentials.
How to Enable Firefox Cookie Blocking
New Firefox users have third-party cookies tracking enabled by default. Those users who downloaded the web browser prior to this release can enable cookie blocking features.
- Open desktop Firefox
- Click the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the top right corner of Firefox
- Select Content Blocking
- In the Browser Privacy section at the top of the screen, go to the Custom option
- Mark the Cookies checkbox and ensure that “Third-party trackers” is selected
Firefox Facebook Blocking Facebook Container
Facebook Container is a Firefox addon used to block Facebook from tracking people across websites. Facebook tracks its users while using the desktop platform as well as the Facebook mobile app. However, it also tracks its users and non-users alike, across the web through its like and share buttons. Anytime someone hits a Facebook share or like button, that action is sent back to Facebook and associated with that web user. The aggregate user data is sold to advertisers who use it to target advertisements.
Mozilla’s Facebook Container web addon was launched last year and has been improved. With this Firefox release, anywhere Facebook features exist away from Faceook.com and the Facebook app, including like and share buttons, on any web page, Facebook will be prevented from tracking users.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers