Mozilla goes on the hunt for Facebook pixels that track Internet users

Facebook Pixel Hunt is a project launched by Mozilla, in cooperation with an American media, to expose how Facebook knows what we do on the web, thanks to pixels.

Stalk the stalkers. That, in a nutshell, is Mozilla’s plan for 2022 with its new initiative, called “Facebook Pixel Hunt”. The objective is obvious: it is a question of chasing the “Facebook pixel” that the social network makes available to websites so that they can obtain information about their visitors, but which are also used by the community site to glean data .

This project was set up in collaboration with The Markup, a media whose work has made it possible to document certain practices of large web companies, such as Google (which is accused of increasingly hijacking the search engine for its own benefit) or Amazon (which is criticized for placing its products ahead of the competition, even though it is rated higher).

The Facebook Pixel Hunt this time targets the most important of social networks, and more specifically one of its tracking tools. This cooperation between Mozilla and The Markup “ aims to map Facebook’s pixel tracking network and understand the type of information it collects across websites “. The actual collection phase should last until July 2022.

Pixels everywhere, tranquility nowhere! // Source: web

In this context, however, Mozilla warns volunteers: it will be necessary to provide data on their side to correctly visualize what Facebook sees. It is about collecting:

  • data sent to Facebook pixels while browsing;
  • the URLs of the web pages visited;
  • time spent browsing pages;
  • the presence of Facebook connection cookies in the browser;
  • a survey to be answered by the Internet user;
  • the URLs visited (including the full address, the time spent on the page and interacting with the media found there, and how far the user has “scrolled” on the page).

Mozilla will collect data, for a good cause

Mozilla ensures that in this context, this data will not be shared with third parties. ” All data aggregation and analysis efforts are done within Mozilla’s secure analysis environment. Once the analysis is complete, we delete all raw data “, is it added. Markup will have access to these aggregates, but they will be anonymized.

On its presentation page, Facebook implicitly mentions the tracking capacity of its tracking pixels: the social network mentions the case where, when a person performs an action (here, a purchase) on a third-party website, the pixel is triggered and signals the action. This is why Facebook is criticized for tracking Internet users on the web, outside of its network.

For its part, Mozilla mobilizes a dedicated extension, called Rally – but it is useless to install it for the moment, since it is reserved for Internet users based in the United States. Broadly, the idea is that Rally accompanies your browsing sessions discreetly, without disturbing you, in order to collect the elements that interest it for its study.

The association between The Markup and Mozilla is promising, but it will only give results in several months, the time to aggregate enough data, so that the mapping is significant enough to show the magnitude of what the social network sees on the rest of the net. And perhaps, thus, have computer graphics strong enough to challenge the public, and repeat it.

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