Facebook changes links to circumvent privacy measures

Corporate giant Meta recently changed the links on Facebook to include encrypted elements.

This unusual step by Facebook shows how serious and important they are about user tracking is. In order to defend itself against software used by users, Facebook adjusted the links. In the future, these will also contain encrypted or simply hashed elements in order to be armed against link shorteners.

Link shortener against Facebook

The link shorteners have been around for quite some time; they usually come in the form of a browser extension. However, there are also some link shorteners as a website version. Their task is simple: You copy a “contaminated” link, i.e. full of tracking information, into the link shortener and get back a version of the link that does not contain any espionage elements. Very popular and easy to use, they are a popular tool against unwanted surveillance.

At least Facebook has put a stop to this and wants to use the new links to prevent link shorteners from removing the surveillance garbage. They will look like this in the future:

https://www.facebook.com/ghacksnet/posts/pfbid0RjTS7KpBAGt9FHp5vCNmRJsnmBudyqRsPC7ovp8sh2EWFxve1Mk2HaGTKoRSuVKpl?__cft__ =AZXT7WeYMEs7icO80N5ynjE2WpFuQK55pIv4kMN-dnAz27-UrYqrkv52_hQlS_TuPd8dGUNLawATILFs55sMUJvH7SFRqb_WcD6CCOX_zYdsebOW0TWyJ9gT2vxBJPZiAaEaac_zQBShE-UEJfatT-JMQT5-bvmrLz7NlgwSeL6fGKH9oY9uepTio0BHyCmoY1A&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

() Now if you omit the encrypted part from here, the main page of GHacks will open, but not the post itself. This means that link shorteners can no longer be used on Facebook pages, at least until a solution has been found. However, the proportion of tracking that URL trackers account for is relatively small.

But if you hope that a quick solution will be found for this problem, you can at least tell that the whole thing is not that easy. In order for the user to be able to reconstruct a URL using a tool such as a link shortener, they would need to be able to recover the obfuscated or encrypted part.

Facebook has the upper hand

Facebook has a clear advantage here and can take advantage of it, whatever it is just fits how the links look. And there’s also very little the user can do about it, other than the exception mentioned above. Because there are currently no known ways to reverse this type of link encryption. The new URL format also negates the built-in options of browsers such as Firefox or Brave.

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