New Browser Extension Disconnect Shaves Social Media Connect Off of Web Sites

By December 14, 2010 Drop a comment
Brian Kennish

With the Disconnect extension, Web users can win back social media privacy and avoid connection services on Web sites and searches.

Former Googler Brian Kennish quit the Mountain View-based Internet search, etc. company last month and announced his Disconnect Project today. Kennish was previously in the news for his Facebook Disconnect extension for Chrome, installable software that combats the tracking and personalization that occurs when Internet users are simultaneously signed into Facebook and browsing the Internet. His new extension takes this project to its logical next level and applies this functionality to other social networks when using the Chrome or Rockmelt browsers, with Foxfire and other extensions currently in development.

Disconnect installs with a confirmation prompt, and the extension can access "Your data on all websites" and "Your browsing history." In the extension manager on Chrome, the widget shows access blocks from social sites' connection attempts from Digg, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo.

As Kennish explains with his Halloween post on "Facebook Disconnect's Scary Install Dialog," extensions can "potentially do bad things and the extension gallery displays accordingly dire warning messages. Unlike compiled programs, though, extensions let you easily view their (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) source code to make sure they don’t actually do anything malicious." Facebook Disconnect uses JavaScript to disable Facebook links on each browsed page. He reassures readers that FD never stores personal data unless users opt-in for anonymous diagnostic data.

Kennish explained on TechCrunch back in October that he created Facebook Disconnect as a reaction to an urge to delete his Facebook account.

As for the new Disconnect extension, Kennish explains that it accomplishes four main tasks - it disables third-party tracking from aforementioned social networks, depersonalizes search results that occur with a google account login, tracks blocked requests and allows for easy unblocking of specific services. Described by a more recent TechCrunch post as "Web 2.1," a reaction to third party social tracking, Disconnect allows for easily anonymized Web browsing without having to sign out of or delete accounts, making for a more user-empowered process.

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