Mozilla Firefox has just expanded its suite of features to protect user privacy, this time in an effort to tackle the problem of websites following you around the web. Like it or not, the sad reality is that many web giants add trackers to URLs that allow them to track your online activities.
Added in Firefox 102, the new Query Parameter Stripping should address that problem in a substantial way – although we are still a long way from a complete solution.
The new privacy feature isn’t enabled by default, but once you enable it, URL tracking parameters will be removed. Many companies add their own query parameters to outbound links listed on their websites. By adding the query parameter, the company, be it Facebook (Meta), HubSpot, Marketo or Olytics, can click and then track your web activity.
For example, Facebook adds its own tracking to outbound links with a “fbclid” query, while Vero uses “vero_id=”. This often results in a long link, which is only made much longer to track your web activity. Firefox will strip the links of all nonsense and leave you with the raw URL you really want to visit. This will definitely remove a lot of trackers, but brave still prevails here and blocks even more than Firefox.
Enabling the feature allows Mozilla Firefox to remove the following tracking parameters from your links:
- Facebook: fbclid=, mc_eid=
- Vero: vero_id=
- Drip: __s=
- Olytica: oly_enc_id=, oly_anon_id=
- HybSpot: _hsenc=
- Marketo: mkt_tok=
The new feature is part of Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection, similar to the recently introduced Total cookie protection† To enable it, go to your Firefox Settingsclick on Privacy and Securityand then turn on Enhanced Tracking Protection Strict†
Browsing in private mode will disable the feature even if you otherwise enabled it. To activate it in private mode, type about:config in the Firefox address bar, then search for stripand then switch the privacy.query_stripping.enabled.pbmode set to WHERE.
If you’ve activated the feature and want to give it a spin, BleepingComputer prepare a test page which contains links to various websites with the query parameters appended to the end. Once you enable the removal of query parameters, Firefox should automatically remove the trackers and send you to example.com with no additional additions. BleepingComputer also notes that browsing with this feature enabled can cause some issues, so if you’re having trouble, you should disable it until Firefox finds a solution.
Firefox seems to try and maximize browser security and user privacy, something akin to the Brave browser. After Firefox was one of the browsers responsible for dethroning Internet Explorer in the early 2000s, Firefox slowly fell into oblivion as Google Chrome began to dominate. According to stat counterGoogle Chrome has the largest market share with 64.95% as of May 2022, followed by Safari with 19.01% and Microsoft Edge with 3.99%. Firefox lags behind in fourth place with only 3.26%.
While Firefox’s glory days may be long gone, the browser still stands strong and offers a pleasant alternative for users who value privacy. It may not be at the top of the charts, but it’s still one of the best browsers now available.