Firefox surprised me once and now it’s done it again, in style. Two things that may make the Internet a better place:
1. The AdBlock Plus add-on blocks all ads on the websites you commonly surf. No ads, so pages load faster because the ads don’t have to be downloaded; you don’t see annoying pop-ups; and you can watch YouTube videos without those eyesore ads appearing below the videos. You have to give AdBlock a list of websites from which ads must be removed. But if you are too lazy to make lists, you can just add lists made by other users (I use Fanboy’s lists). An extension is out for Google Chrome too.
2. The latest Firefox 4.0 Beta 11 has what I think is a revolutionary first: The ‘Opt Out of Ad Tracking’ option. For those in the dark: almost every website tracks your online behaviour by saving a discrete ‘cookie’ on your computer. The sites you visit, the things you read, the videos you watch, all this information is stored by the cookie and given to advertisers who then target you with ads based on the information that the invisible cookie collected about you. So, when you are browsing about foreign education, you get ads about visa offices and educational ‘agents’. Most users are unaware of these cookies and all the information stored about them without their consent. With the ‘Opt Out of Ad Tracking’ in the latest beta, Firefox lets you tell websites not to track your online behaviour.
This is from the 4.0b11 release:
Firefox now lets you tell sites you don’t want your online behavior tracked for advertising purposes: check the box in the Advanced Preferences dialog to notify all servers you want to opt out. (Note: although Firefox is leading the web towards a universal Do Not Track standard, you won’t notice any difference in your browsing until sites and advertisers agree to respond to your preference.)
For those further interested in the Do Not Track standard and the discourse around advertising oriented online behaviour tracking, read Sid Stamm’s blog post.
I wish awareness about such privacy debates in India increases and people make better informed choices. If that is too much expectation, let’s start with something simpler:
DO NOT USE INTERNET EXPLORER. PLEASE!