Nearly every website on the planet uses so called like-buttons that enable site visitors to share articles, websites or services with contacts on social networking sites. These buttons are mainly used to make life easier for site visitors as they increase the chance that contents are shared on social networking sites.
A side-effect of this is that the social network that is linked with a button receives information about site visitors, even if the like button is not used by particular visitors at all. Buttons are usually added via third party scripts that get loaded from servers of the social network they are made available on. These requests alone reveal information about the individual visiting the website. Information include the web browser and operating system as well as the IP address of the computer used to establish the connection. While this can be altered or hidden, for instance through the use of virtual private networks, proxies and altering the user agent, it is not something that most Internet users do.
2-Click Like is a great extension for the Firefox web browser that turns popular social buttons into static images. The idea here is to block the loading of the scripts initially, to load them only if you click on the buttons. So, it requires the user to become active before the script is loaded and displayed on the site.
Note that while the extension covers many popular social networking badges, including those of Facebook and Twitter, it does not protect you from all of them. A click on the 2C-Like button loads the script to display its contents on the site. To interact with the script, click again on the buttons it makes available.
The extension has not been updated since 2011 which helps to understand why Google Plus is not recognized by it. It is not clear if the author will ever update the script again or if someone forks it to add support for Google Plus to it.
An alternative to the script is the NoScript extension which blocks all of the social networking buttons on all sites you visit, provided they are loaded via scripts.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.