back to article Atlas snubbed! Ad blocker says it can kill Facebook's stalker tech

Facebook's new Atlas people-tracking system isn't popular, at least according to some of our readers, and now Adblock says it has found a way to block it. "While Adblock Plus applauds innovation that improves the advertising experience for the user, we firmly believe that the user should have the choice whether or not they …

  1. i like crisps
    Holmes

    First Paragraph, First Sentence....

    ...ICON.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Not with a bang, but with a whimper

    My goodness how far the mighty Internet has fallen.

    In order to safely surf the 'net these days (does anyone say "surf" anymore?) I need:

    • Anti virus
    • Software AND physical firewall
    • Adblocking in my browser
    • Script blocking (at least 2 separate ones)
    • A very good browser acting as my first line of defense with Do Not Track
    • Malware blocking in the browser as well as the Anti virus and firewall I already have

    Yes, this makes me want to buy all kinds of things and particpate more in the Interent as well making as me all exited and tingly about "the Internet of things"!

    Not.

    Carry on Adblock. Carry on.

    1. I Like Heckling

      Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

      I too use the following plugins/extentions/addons.

      2 ad blockers

      2 script blockers

      1 anti-tracker tool

      This is alongside the antivirus, firewall and peerblocking programs I use.

      I also use incognito/privacy modes quite often, and through my old hotmail (now outlook) account I create email aliases specifically for each website (should I need to sign up for something).

      I always opt out of marketing and contact, and don't allow/tolerate my info being sold... So any email addy that suddenly starts getting spammed... The source is easily identified, and the company blacklisted and loses any future business.

      I may not be able to do anything about the big picture... But I can protect myself as best I can and refuse to do business with any company that sells my data onwards without my explicit consent.

      As for facebook... I have that blocked at the router level and it won't even load the little fb icons and can no longer be used to track me... those that do are immediately blocked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

        Ha! They don't worry me, my personal dns server is authoritative for facebook's domains (among others).

    2. DropBear

      Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

      In order to safely surf the 'net these days (does anyone say "surf" anymore?)

      What do you mean...? How else can one access cyberspace...?!?

      1. Adam 1

        Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

        >What do you mean...? How else can one access cyberspace...?!?

        It is so sad what is happening to the information superhighway.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

      Simpler approach: VM & revert to snapshot on reboot.

      I personally make use of VMware's Unity which allows me to dock out a window from the guest to appear on the desktop of the host. It's a lovely feature. That way it doesn't at all feel like I am running my browser on a VM as there is no need to continuously switch back to the VM when multi-tasking.

      And this is also an extremely secure approach against malware attacks (particularly zero-day malware attacks) since all I need to do is reboot the VM and I'm back to my previous snapshot.

      I do of course still take my time to block cookies entirely because to hell with advertisers. No Flash either as that's just another avenue to store tracking-related data. No Java either for similar reasons.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        @Entrope RE: VMs

        You are aware that most tracking nowadays is done on the server-side and by using the same VM over and over, you end up presenting the same GUID/Browser_ID every single time, unless you are re-installing your browser every single time.

        As for security, your VM will only protect from the most ocmmon pieces of malware; I've seen some experimental exploits that take advantage of the 'Guest Additions' on the VM to launch an attack on the host (especially since both the client and server halves run with the highest permissions). I wouldn't be surprised to find state-sponsored attacks using these methods to infect machines.

    4. Psyx

      Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

      You don't need all of that to 'safely' surf. Don't confuse 'safely' with 'safely and without those annoying ways that websites make money being enabled'.

      Adblock is something I do because I don't want to see annoying adverts and have my connection slowed by them. Do Not Track is something I use because I don't like being tracked. Those are simply our bloody-minded preferences and unwillingness to be easily monitised, rather than safety concerns.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

        There have been several instances of nasties embedded in on-line ads..

        From another article. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-14/self-regulation-fails-to-curb-web-ad-abuses-panel-says.html

        "Yahoo’s advertising network was compromised in December by hackers, resulting in a virus being installed on computers of users when they visited ads on legitimate websites, according to a report released by Levin’s panel. In February, cybercriminals carried out a similar attack on Google’s YouTube video service through an ad delivered by the company, the report found."

        The latest is payload.sidekick.net

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Not with a bang, but with a whimper

        @Psyx

        Actually, I have adblock configured to allow advertisements from sites that are aware of adblock and do various things to signal it that it's okay to display ads. I also have adblock configured to allow advertisements when they are hosted from the site itself.

        Adblocok does, however, block any of the major advertising platforms (and their trackers) as well as all the "twitter buttons" and "facebook buttons" and so forth.

        I don't mind advertising so long as it isn't A) Moving and B) Tracking me.

        Static images or text are fine, so long as they're not tied to trackers. Those are highly unlikely to contain exploits that could harm me. Animated things - particularly flash - absolutely can crawl through the internet and do me harm.

        It's security - both of my privacy and my desktop - that drive my use of Adblock. Not some hatred of ads. So do bear in mind we don't all have the same motivations.

  3. Vector
    Meh

    I'm so glad...

    ...I don't have a Facebook account.

    Of course, I'm far from safe.

    I use Google.

  4. Bob Vistakin
    Holmes

    This "Facebook" you speak of

    It's some kind of website, right? Where people buy things?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This "Facebook" you speak of

      > Where people buy things?

      No, it's where people are sold.

      1. Vector

        Re: This "Facebook" you speak of

        "No, it's where people are sold."

        So...it's where corporations buy things..?

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Coat

    You don't have to click......

    ....on every stupid bit of clickbait you see.

    Or "like" every damn stupid comment either.

    And anyone who buys from an ad that magically appears in their browser needs certifying.

    Sadly that seems to be a significan part of humanity.

    1. SteveK

      Re: You don't have to click......

      True, but I assume this system tracks you just because the page has 'like' buttons on it, regardless whether or not you clicked them - the fact that you visited a page about X will be logged.

      On the other hand, clicking all the random ads that appear is useful. For a start, it messes up and devalues any possible data that has been logged about you; secondly if the target of the ad starts having to pay out for lots of clicks that result in zero sales then they may be less inclined to pay, which again devalues the advertising.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    On the one hand...

    First off, Facebook tracking facebook users? Fair enough IMHO. But what I actually see is the browser phoning home to fbstatic-a.akamaihd.net on all sorts of random pages. This happens so often, if you Google it some Windows users (assuming Windows got infected yet again) have begun posting the last few years asking what the deal is with the "fbstatic-a spyware" and how to remove it.

    Anyway...

    On the one hand, the amount of data these people collect is troubling, and there should absolutely be an opt-out. Worse still, I haven't seen any perceptible indication that Facebook actually *uses* this info to improve your experience. My friend uses Facebook all the time and just gets the stupidest ads that don't have anything to do with his interests.

    On the other hand... Hulu. I suppose based on how fast I hit that "skip ad" button, it figured out I like technology and cars, and even figured out I don't like Hondas and skipped the Honda ads. The few minutes of ads they slip in during a typical show are a genuine pleasure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the one hand...

      How is that any less creepy?

      What if you only allowed the ads with blue cars? Or do you not skip one type of ad per show? For example, so do you only watch Toyota adds in one show and only Nissan in another?

  7. ashdav

    Faecebook as is so often referred to on El Reg as "the free adserving social network" and rightly so.

    It will die soon and become the realm of the underclass.

  8. Peter Prof Fox

    In some ways I don't care

    So what if big-brother decides I like indoor hangliding? I block all ads so the layers of ad men will fluff-up their tools to achieve what exactly?

    I do have a dormant FB account in a false name for when I want to advertise myself but I have zero interaction with it ATM and will be happy to use it as a one way (me to universe) billboard.

  9. cortland

    FB wont be the only ones

    I can no longer comment to articles on the Huffiness Post site; apparently they don't like Adblocker either.

  10. thexfile

    Vulture capitalism is the American way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Um...

      You might want to scroll back to the top of the page and have a look there.

  11. TeleC

    Clean-ish Browsing + Facebook...

    Firefox with the following addons:

    Adblock Plus obv.

    FBPurity ..well actually I run the GreaseMonkey version but hey...

    NoScript : Stops all scripts loading especially XSS and tracking sites. It annoys you to begin by blocking EVERYTHING with until you train it for sites you frequent. After a while it settles down. If only it was available on Chrome, this may be the only reason I am still using FF.

    I get no adverts or popups from anyone or anything I haven't authorised.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Clean-ish Browsing + Facebook...

      Chrome has an equivalent called ScriptSafe.

    2. e^iπ+1=0

      NoScript

      "NoScript : Stops all scripts loading especially XSS and tracking sites. It annoys you to begin by blocking EVERYTHING with until you train it for sites you frequent. After a while it settles down. If only it was available on Chrome, this may be the only reason I am still using FF."

      My problem here is that when I'm out and about on the internet I never really ever get further with NoScript than 'temporarily allow'; too often I end up (temporarily) allowing a whole lot of things to try to get a web page to work - no way am I going to make that permanent. Some sites require e.g. some Google owned domain allowed in order to work; after that I need to clean up again.

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