Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Keep Google from Profiling You

I just sent this email to my brother, who is interested in not being profiled by google.  I thought I would share it with you all as well.  This is a list of firefox extensions to consider if you want to keep google (and other bad boys) from following you everywhere.  Note that you don't need admin rights on your computer to install these.

To hide yourself from google, i would suggest doing a few things, which will be good for all your stuff, actually:
  1. Install CS Lite Mod - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/cslite-mod/
    1. Set it to Deny Cookies Globally, and then allow cookies on a site-by-site basis.  You may occassionally have sites act shitty on you, in which case you can allow cookies for them that will persist forever, you can allow cookies per session (which allows that site to set cookies, but times them out after a while), or you can temporarily allow cookies, which turns that site back into a "no cookie site" after a while.
    2. Allow google to set cookies on a per-session basis
  2. Install Adblock Plus - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/?src=search
    1. Enable the ad filters, tracking filters, and whatever else you want
    2. Ad the following lines so that google won't follow you around the
  3. Install Google Redirects Fixer - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/google-no-tracking-url/?src=search
    1. You know how when you click on a google search result, it first shows a google URL in your address bar, and then forwards you to the site?  Yeah, that's google tracking what you click.  This addon will make google search links link directly to the site you want, and not through a google redirect.
  4. Install RefControl - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/refcontrol/
    1. When you click on a link, your browser sends a query to the site at that link location to send you the page.  Along with the query, it tells that site where you're coming from.  So, if you click on a link that sends you to google from a lifehacker page, google will know you're coming from lifehacker.  RefControl will allow you to stop your browser from sending that information, and it will allow you to turn it back on on a site-by-site basis (if stripping that ref info breaks a site for example - but it usually never does).
  5. Install DoNotTrackMe - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/donottrackplus/
    1. I don't use this myself, but I probably should.  As I understand it, it keeps your browser from alerting tracking companies that you're on a particular page.  I don't use it because I have CSFire installed (see below).  But this might be better.
  6. If you really want to fuck with google, install TrackMeNot - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/trackmenot/
    1. It will send random search strings to google, thereby obfuscating their user profile for you
  7. You might think about installing NoScript - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/
    1. This will block lots of nefarious tracking shite.  But it will also break lots of sites.  So, I don't use it.  But you might think about it.
  8. I use a thing called CsFire - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/csfire/
    1. It's kind of a pain, so i don't really recommend you use it.  But what it does is strip queries to third party content of cookies and the like.  For example, if a lifehacker page is showing an image from google images, CSFire will allow you to grab the image, but it won't allow google to see your google-related cookies, etc.  So, it will be harder for google to know that you're visiting the lifehacker page.
Ok, that's a lot.  But do it!

Feel free to (in fact, please do) share this with your colleagues or anyone else who wants to avoid the REAL big brother these days.  (ok, that ended up sounding a little militia-like paranoid, but you know what I mean).