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Cookies. We have a love hate relationship with them. They track what we do and report all kinds of information back to the site that generated them — and to third parties as well, in many cases. But they also often provide a better user experience, keeping track of our preferences and removing small annoyances like having to sign in to a website every single time we open it up. Unfortunately, as is the case with most things on the internet regarding your privacy and security, the only completely effective way to protect yourself is to simply turn the potential problem off. The only problem with this course of action is that turning off cookies also has the effect of making a huge part of the web practically unusable.
So what to do about it? Well, if you use Google Chrome, try out Disconnect.
Disconnect, which was created by a former Google employee, is a Google Chrome Extension that helps you to keep your personal data safe while still maintaining the ability to work effectively with sites like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and others. You may run into a few issues now and again, but overall, the experience is fairly seamless. All you need to do is install the Disconnect extension in your Google Chrome browser, make sure the extension is turned on, then watch as the tally of daily attempted intrusions upon your privacy climbs. The basic functionality, and much of the more advanced uses, of the webapps should work without problems, helping you to do what you like, and search for what you like, without passing along any personally identifiable data. If you have need to unblock a service, say to do something like play Facebook games, it’s a simple matter of a click on the extension’s dropdown menu (which includes Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Yahoo, and Google).
Disconnect is open source software. Download it for Google Chrome here.