Brian Kennish, former Google employee, has launched a Google Chrome extension that lets you turn of the flow of data from Facebook Connect to third parties.The extension is doing exceedingly well with 69,896 users and weekly installs of 7,119. It’s doing so well that Mr. Kennish has left his job at Google to develop the Facebook Disconnect software full-time.
The plan is to build Disconnect, a browser extension for Chrome and Rockmelt that disables third party data tracking while browsing. Disconnect will not just focus on Facebook (like Facebook Disconnect), it will block all third party data tracking by Digg, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo.
In case you didn’t know, third parties like the ones mentioned above collect data about the pages you visit and the searches you conduct. This information can then be pooled to create valuable research statistics for media and marketing companies. The problem is that you do not give permission for this data to be used like that. Some people, including me, take this issue seriously and develop methods to hinder the attempts of third parties to track your browsing data.
Kennish sounds like a pretty awesome dude, he states ‘I called it quits at Google three weeks ago so I could help web users better understand the data they’re unintentionally sharing and develop tools that make it simple for them to control this data (I’ve been referring to this effort as Web 2.1, a privacy patch for the web).’
As awareness grows (at least let’s hope it is growing) about the internet and privacy issues people will be more inclined to use plug-ins and extension such as Facebook Disconnect. Webandrank reported back in July about a plug-in called Google Alarm, once installed Google Alarm will tell you every time your personal data is sent to Google servers. This plug-in does nothing to hinder Google’s data collection but it is interesting to see just how often you unintentionally send data to Google servers.
The cool thing about Disconnect is that it is easy to use (much easier than conventional ad blockers) and does not impede web usage. If you were to access yahoo mail, you can still do so the same as before but you will now remain anonymous.
For all of you who don’t use Google Chrome don’t worry Disconnect for Firefox and Safari are in the works.