The company announced that it was teaming up with the Markup to start a “Facebook Pixel Hunt.” Users can download a browser extension created by Mozilla called Rally and opt-in to the study. The goal of the study is to look at how Facebook uses pixels across the web to track users and use that collected information to target ads.
The extension will collect the data sent to Facebook pixels as your browse websites, the presence of Facebook login cookies in your browser, the URLs of webpages you visit, the time spent on those pages, and more. Mozilla said the study aims to answer numerous questions like: “What kind of data does the Facebook pixel collect? Which sites share this data? What can this data reveal about people? What other ways does Facebook track people? How widespread is Facebook’s tracking network?”
The study will run until July 13.
“A tool like Rally can bring the full force of communities of people joining together to provide insights into one of the most opaque parts of the internet that have such a dramatic impact on our individual lives and on society,” Ted Han, the Rally product lead at Mozilla, said in a statement. “This is a rare opportunity to lift the veil over Facebook’s tracking and data collection practices outside of the Facebook platforms.”
Mozilla said “granular measurements data” would not be shared with third parties and after the study is completed it will delete the raw data. Additionally, the company said any reporting done by the Markup would use aggregated, anonymized data.
This isn’t the first time Mozilla has used browser extensions to study big tech companies. In 2020, the company used a browser extension to crowdsource information about YouTube’s recommendations. The “RegretsReporter” study found that 71% of the videos people reported they regretted watching came from the site’s recommendation algorithm.
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