A New Firefox Update Can Stop Certain URLs from Tracking You Around the Web

A New Firefox Update Can Stop Certain URLs from Tracking You Around the Web
Photo: PixieMe, Shutterstock

Mozilla’s latest version of Firefox might just be the answer for users who hate being tracked when clicking on links off sites like Facebook.

Bleeping Computer first spotted the new privacy feature after the new 102 version of Firefox was released Tuesday. With the new update, certain tracking parameters from Facebook, Olytics, HubSpot, and Marketo can be disabled, according to the report. These parameters are essentially a piece of code added onto the end of a URL address that will tell the original site that you clicked on the link, which companies add to the bevy of data they collect on each user for targeted ads.

For example, if you click a link off your Facebook feed, you’ll likely end up with URL that contains something like this (the link is just an example and does not go to any actual page):

https://www.trackmeprettyplease.org/example/ 

followed with a “?” and a code line similar to:

?fbclid=IwAT3B79DD1S…

This newest version of Firefox automatically removes that last bit of code before it can apply to the link you click on. It can be enabled by going into Settings, selecting the browser’s Privacy & Security settings and clicking the “strict” option for Enhanced Tracking Protection.

Gizmodo tested the tracking removal feature, and it did remove the specific parameter, however the list of codes Firefox can strip still lacks certain trackers such as urchin tracking modules — or “UTMs” — which monitor where a new person loading the site is coming from, which is used to track how well an ad might be doing. Brave browser currently gets around most link parameters, but you might have to deal with other shady activity on part of the browser itself.

According to Firefox’s site explaining the new security option, the browser does mention that enabling “strict” tracking protection could cause some sites to no longer work properly. It also doesn’t work in Private Mode without manually configuring the browser.

Additionally, the browser’s options allow users to disable other web tracking methods like cross-site cookies or web fingerprints.

Meanwhile, Chrome, which remains the most popular browser online, still struggles to reveal just how far it’s tracking your internet habits. Firefox is a well-enough regarded browser for the security minded, but check out Gizmodo’s full rundown of secure browsers for those looking for a more anonymous browsing experience online.