|Browser Add-On Helps You See Who's Watching You Online|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Oct 25, 2013, 2:37 PM|
If you're an Internet user, which presumably you are if you're reading this, you're likely aware that the services or sites you visit or the browsers you use might track some of your browsing habits in one way or another.
Depending on what privacy settings you have enabled, sites and services might monitor your clicks to show you advertisements you might be interested in or collect other data for research.
But Mozilla, the open-source software company that makes the Firefox browser, wants to make it a bit easier for you to visualize what sites and third-party site services might be tracking or watching your Internet activity. Released on Thursday, an add-on for your Firefox browser called Lightbeam shines a light on the eyeballs watching you.
When installed, you get an interactive visualization of the sites you visit and around those are a cluster of other services that are tied into those sites. When you click on pieces on the map that looks like a solar system, you can see more information about who might be gathering information about you and your Web habits.
Mozilla officials said they hope the tool brings awareness to Web users about the different third-party plug-ins that are used across sites, but the company is also looking to get a bigger picture view of the Internet and how tracking works.
Of course, that's leads to another question: Is Lightbeam tracking me too? Mozilla offers a very clear toggle that allows you to turn on and off what you contribute to the service.
"You may contribute your data to our crowdsourced directory by simply turning on the share switch within the add-on," the company states on its information page. "To disable crowdsourcing, you can turn it off at any time."
You can download the add-on from here and while you're at it, it might also be a good time to make sure the "do not track" setting is turned on in your browser. In Firefox that can be found under Preferences, Privacy and then selecting the "I do not want to be tracked" setting.