Lightbeam – Q & A

The Mozilla Learning Network rallies and connects leaders who want to advance the promise of the Internet for learning in a networked world. This is done by fuelling new approaches to digital learning through Mozilla Hives, Clubs and Gigabit cities.

As part of the Internet Health Basics learning activity, there is a module on Privacy and Security and there is a chapter on tracking cookies using Lightbeam.

The objective of this course is to:

  • Understand and explain cookies and how they track users’ Web browsing.
  • Understand and use online tools such as Lightbeam to monitor online tracking.
  • Reflect on distinguishing between appropriate and invasive uses of tracking.

My mentor at Outreachy – Lightbeam, Luke Crouch, conducts web literacy classes at the Tulsa Library. Recently, he conducted a session on Lightbeam and below is the summary of the answers from the questionnaire filled by the attendees.

Q: Have you ever used a tool like Lightbeam before?

  • Turned off the cookies button
  • OpenDNS which shows domains contacted

Q: If you had to summarise what Lightbeam does, what would you say?

  • Adds to the awareness of how little privacy we have
  • Informs users of tracking activity and who is tracking
  • Easy to view a centralised map of all cookie connections encountered during a browsing session
  • Visual display of Internet locations contacted
  • Lists your cookies in a graph
  • Visualisation tool for showing links between cookies and sites

Q: Was there anything that you found especially valuable? 

  • Graph was valuable along with link identification by colour.
  • Visual of the volume of the connection activity was interesting
  • Good to see logos
  • An eye opener

Q: Was there anything that you found especially confusing?

  • I would prefer the ability to set the graph size
  • Coloured lines were bit confusing

Q: Would you use Lightbeam again?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe

Q: What habits can you develop – and what strategies and tools can you use – to prevent yourself from being followed online?

  • Use private browsing with tracking protection
  • Delete cookies
  • Clear the history
  • Incognito mode

Q: How might you learn more about online privacy? What would you search for?

  • Wouldn’t try to learn online because I don’t trust a lot of what’s out there. I learned from reading a book ‘I know who you are and know what you did
  • Search for privacy and legislative actions. Browse computer science and technology online reports and magazines.
  • Search for online privacy best practices
  • Go to the Tulsa library class 🙂

The above Q & A sheds light on how users find Lightbeam to be an eye opener in the web privacy space. This survey is also useful for us to improve the current UI/UX issues.

The existing Firefox addon will be revamped using web extensions during the course of my Outreachy internship. If you haven’t tried Lightbeam yet, you can instal this Firefox addon and leave us your feedback.

It’s time to make the Internet healthy 🙂

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