Facebook Container Tab in Firefox

Guard Your Privacy Online

An unfortunate reality to life online today is that some popular sites do not respect your privacy at all. The issue is not the data that you knowingly and freely give them. The issue is that they collect data on you without explicit consent. Oh, sure, you do agree to their “terms of service” that are written in legalese and all the important bits are buried in the depths of it. Facebook is quite possibly one of the worst offenders to stalking you around the internet. It’s one thing to be “watched” when using the Facebook properties as it only makes sense that they are monitoring what you do, what you post and so forth, it’s another thing for them to track you when you go to other sites. That is stalking and although legal, it is not at all ethical. The solution, using Facebook Container Tab in Firefox.

The purpose of this article is to give you a layer of protection against being stalked by Facebook. If this is all the information you need to convince yourself of the benefits. Install Firefox, if you haven’t already been using it then install the Facebook Container tab.

This is the first of what will be many security and privacy tips that I hope average folks can use. Although most of what I write targets Linux and specifically openSUSE Linux; I am straying just a bit. This article also assumes that you have some idea how to install software on your particular operating system.

Installation

If you are running a modern Linux distribution, you likely have Firefox installed by default. There are some unfortunate exceptions of which I cannot recall nor do I care to recall at this time. openSUSE, Ubuntu, along with its flavors, Fedora and MX Linux have it installed by default.

Windows, and MacOS, you will have to navigate here:

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

For a Linux user, Firefox should be in the main package repository. Consult your specific distribution if, for some extremely odd reason, you do not have it already installed. You can also use the aforementioned link to get a tar.gz archive and follow those instructions there.

Firefox truly is the best browser you can have on any computer and this Facebook container tab really cements it in for me. To get the add-on, follow this link:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/facebook-container/

Why it’s Important

Many sites are collecting as much personal data from you as they can to make a dollar off of you. To be clear, I am not bothered by advertising on websites. What I am bothered by is advertising that stalks you. I also have to acknowledge that this site uses Word Ads so there is something I don’t like going on there (I’ll have a better solution eventually).

One of the worst offenders is Facebook. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, you visit a site that has some sort of Facebook tie-in, they will create a kind of “shadow profile” on you and stalk you around the web. For those that have a Facebook account, which includes Instagram, and you want to use it in a safer, more privacy respecting fashion.

The Facebook Container Tab extension on Firefox the best way to use a site that is hostile to your privacy and prevent excessive tracking. It helps you take control and isolate your web activity from Facebook.

What Does it Do?

Facebook Container works by isolating your Facebook identity into a separate container that makes it difficult for Facebook to track your visits to other websites with third-party cookies. In effect, you are only allowing Facebook to track what you do on their web properties, not on the entirety of the Internet.

Facebook Container Add-on

How it works

This extension secures your Facebook tabs. When you close the tab, it deletes your Facebook cookies, and logs you out of Facebook. The next time you navigate to Facebook it will load in a new browser tab (the “Container”). It can be distinguished with another color or in my case, it underlines the tab.

Facebook and Instagram tabs are underlined to identify it being in its own container.

Once the extension is installed, you don’t have to think much of it. Log in and use Facebook normally. The browser will automatically detect if you are going to a Facebook property. Should you click on a non-Facebook link or navigate to a non-Facebook website in the URL bar, these pages will load outside of the container, in effect preventing the stalking and monitoring of Facebook.

Something that has become quite common is seeing a “Facebook Share” buttons on other sites. If you should click on that share, Firefox will load them within the Facebook Container. You should know that using these buttons passes information to Facebook about the website that you shared from.

Facebook share… beware

The Price of Security Costs in Convenience

How you engage other websites outside of Facebook may be impacted by the container tabs. Most of what I view doesn’t have this encumberment but you are not likely me. As is such, some website features will not function as you may expect.

Since you will be logged into Facebook only in the Container, embedded Facebook comments and Like buttons in tabs outside the Facebook Container will not work. This is how Facebook is prevented from associating information about your activity on websites outside of Facebook to your Facebook identity.

If you have used Facebook credentials to log into into In addition, websites. First of all, bad idea. Giving Facebook keys to other accounts is a terrible, terrible idea. That is like throwing your wallet and keys in the front yard with a sign pointing down to detailed instructions about which keys access your home, car and bank account.

If you want a password manager. You can read about Bitwarden here and decide for yourself if you want to use it. If you would like to sign up for a free account, navigate here.

Facebook credentials will generally not work properly with this extension because it is designed to separate Facebook use from use of other websites. This is the cost of convenience but I have provided a much better solution with Bitwarden.

What Facebook Container Does Not Do

This extension does not prevent Facebook from mishandling the data it already has or that you have given to it. Facebook will do what Facebook does. Whatever you do on Facebook, automatically assume that you have permitted all of Facebook and any of its partners to pass around your data like a dish of mashed sweat potatoes at a family dinner. Facebook has access to everything that you do while you are on Facebook.com, or Instagram.com and WhatsApp. This includes Facebook posts, comments, photo uploads, likes or other emotional responses as well as any and all data you share with Facebook connected apps.

Ideally, none of us should use Facebook but that is one of the “city centers” of the Internet. Likely, it is a service you find valuable and you should have tools to limit what data Facebook can obtain. This extension focuses on limiting Facebook tracking, but other ad networks may try to correlate your Facebook activities with your regular browsing.

Additional Notes

This extension alone is not going to prevent every bit of tracking in association with Facebook. This is but one layer or one other line of defense to protect you. In addition to this extension, you can change your Facebook settings, use Private Browsing, enable Tracking Protection, block third-party cookies, use an Ad blocker like uBlock Origin and/or use Firefox Multi-Account Containers extension to further limit tracking. Implementing all of these bits at one go may not work out for you so add them one at a time to see how many conveniences are wroth giving up for a little more security and privacy.

You may wonder if Mozilla collects data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. All they receive are the number of times the extension is installed or removed. If you would like to learn more and its specifics, feel free. It’s open source.

There are already container features that are built in to Firefox. When you enable Facebook Container, you may also see Containers named Personal, Work, Shopping, and Banking while you browse. If you wish to use multiple Containers, you’ll have the best user experience if you install the Firefox Multi-Account Containers extension. More information about containers can be obtained from the Mozilla support site.

What I like

I have, in effect, cut Facebook off from stalking me around the internet. They are not able to monitor my activities outside of Facebook and make advertising recommendations to me based on my interests.

Isolating Facebook in a tab and closing it truly cuts Facebook off from my browser and computer. Think about it. With other solutions, like using Google Chrome, when you “log out” of Facebook or close the tab that had Facebook running in it. There is still code running on your computer and reporting back Facebook on your activity. This happens regardless of whether or not you have a Facebook account. Container tabs allows the freedom of the information without the associated costs in loss of privacy.

What I Don’t Like

I don’t like that this extension isn’t activated by default. Although, I do understand why they would not as the uninformed or oblivious user would think there is something wrong with Firefox and potentially abandon it when some external sites Facebook plugins wouldn’t work properly. Rather than frustrate the user by having it active by default (which would be my choice), they deactivate it and let the informed user protect themselves.

The Android mobile Firefox client does not support this extension and that annoys me quite a bit. I am not sure why the mobile app is crippled. Perhaps it is a different web engine. I know that Firefox uses the WebKit instead of the Gecko rendering engine on iOS but I don’t know about Android for sure.

That’s all I can think of for what I don’t like about it. This is the only way I will use Facebook, on my computer using Firefox. I do not feel comfortable browsing Facebook without it having its healthy boundaries set.

Final Thoughts

Security on the World Wide Web is not as simple as it once was. Many sites, generally from “big tech” are not being very respectful of your privacy and are preying on your ignorance of their actions. They get away with it by creating these massive End User License Agreements (EULAs) that you have to agree to in order to use their site. They don’t make it clear that just by browsing to their site, they are implanting code on your computer’s browser to track and monitor you and what you do, mostly for ad revenue but maybe for other nefarious activity.

Facebook containers will prevent some of that stalking. It will contain the tracking but that is it. This is one of many steps that should be taken when making voyages across the “scary internet”. Prepare yourself and your computer. Use Firefox and enable the Facebook container tabs, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. Your identity, privacy and security are quite important in so many ways. This is a no-cost option with a minor penalty in loss of convenience. Check it out, see if it is sustainable. Once you see the benefits of container tabs, you won’t regret the decision to go Firefox.

References

Download Firefox from Mozilla.org
Facebook Container from addons.mozilla.org
Bitwarden a Secure Password Manager on openSUSE
Get Bitwarden Password Manager
Multi-account Containers from addons.mozilla.org
https://github.com/mozilla/contain-facebook
https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/containers

2 thoughts on “Facebook Container Tab in Firefox

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