(NEW YORK) -- Most Internet users are aware of the services or sites one can visit or the browsers that can be used to track some browsing habits in one way or another. Depending on the privacy settings that are enabled, sites and services might monitor clicks to show the user advertisements they might be interested in or collect other data for research.
But Mozilla, the open-source software company that makes the Firefox browser, wants to make it a bit easier for users to visualize what sites and third-party site services might be tracking or watching their Internet activity. Released on Thursday, an add-on for the Firefox browser called Lightbeam shines a light on the eyeballs watching users. When installed, the user gets an interactive visualization of the sites they visit and around those are a cluster of other services that are tied into those sites. When a person clicks on pieces on the map that looks like a solar system, you more information becomes available about who might be gathering information about the user and their Web habits.
Mozilla officials said they hope the tool brings awareness to Web users about the different third-party plug-ins that are used across sites, but the company is also looking to get a bigger picture view of the Internet and how tracking works.
Of course, that's leads to another question: Is Lightbeam tracking me too? Mozilla offers a very clear toggle that allows you to turn on and off what you contribute to the service.
"You may contribute your data to our crowdsourced directory by simply turning on the share switch within the add-on," the company states on its information page. "To disable crowdsourcing, you can turn it off at any time."
You can download the add-on from here and while you're at it, it might also be a good time to make sure the "do not track" setting is turned on in your browser. In Firefox that can be found under Preferences, Privacy and then selecting the "I do not want to be tracked" setting.
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