Although browser addons such as NoScript and Ghostery (which is cross-browser with some limitations) provide great protection against tracking, some people prefer not to have to install plugins. Firefox does have configuration options to somewhat limit what trackers can do. You can follow the knowledge base article here to learn how to disable 3rd party cookies (the default setting in Safari, which Google was caught circumventing).
If you’re up to it, you also simply open up the almighty “about:config” and tinker with the following settings (some of which aren’t available in the browser UI):
- network.cookie.cookieBehavior with values:
- “0”: allow all cookies (default)
- “1”: don’t allow 3rd party cookies
- “2”: don’t allow any cookies
- network.cookie.thirdparty.lifetimePolicy with values:
- “0”: keep cookies for as long as the server asks
- “1”: ask the user on each and every cookie set (try it out if only for fun, you’d be surprise how much cookies are set)
- “2”: cookie gets deleted when you close your browser (i.e. at the end of the session)
- “3”: cookies have a lifetime as defined in the “network.cookie.lifetime.days ” preference
- network.cookie.thirdparty.sessionOnly: set to “true” or “false”
- privacy.donottrackheader.enabled: set to “false” (default) or “true”, which gently asks sites not to track you
Setting “network.cookie.thirdparty.sessionOnly” to “true” is a low-impact change which should stop tracking-companies (think Media6degrees or Quantcast) from following you around the web.
If you want to stop Facebook, Google & Co to stop tracking you around the web as well, the above setting will not suffice. You should either log out of their sites as soon as you’ve done your business there or set “network.cookie.cookieBehavior” to “1” (which will break their “social widgets”). Or you can install Ghostery or NoScript, off course.