- Apr 24, 2016
Facebook has started to use a different URL scheme for site links to combat URL stripping technologies that browsers such as Firefox or Brave use to improve privacy and prevent user tracking.
Some sites, including Facebook, add parameters to the web address for tracking purposes. These parameters have no functionality that is relevant to the user, but sites rely on them to track users across pages and properties.
Mozilla introduced support for URL stripping in Firefox 102, which it launched in June 2022. Firefox removes tracking parameters from web addresses automatically, but only in private browsing mode or when the browser's Tracking Protection feature is set to strict. Firefox users may enable URL stripping in all Firefox modes, but this requires manual configuration. Brave Browser strips known tracking parameters from web addresses as well.
Both web browsers use lists of known tracking parameters for the functionality. The lists need to be updated whenever sites change tracking parameters.
Facebook could have changed the scheme that it is using, but this would have given Facebook only temporary recourse. It appears that Facebook is using encryption now to track users.
Previously, Facebook used the parameter fbclid for tracking purposes. Now, it uses URLs such as Log into Facebook instead.
The main issue here is that there it is no longer possible to remove the tracking part of the URL, as Facebook merged it with part of the required web address. Removing the entire construct after the ? would open the main Facebook page of Ghacks Technology News, but it won't open the linked post.
Since it is no longer possible to identify the tracking part of the web address, it is no longer possible to remove it from the address automatically. In other words: Facebook has the upper hand in regards to URL-based tracking at the time, and there is little that can be done about it short of finding a way to decrypt the information.
Facebook has started to use a different URL scheme for site links to combat URL stripping technologies that browsers use to improve privacy and prevent user tracking.