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New Firefox 42 Stops Trackers in Their Tracks

Third-party content trackers are like relentless stalkers. You don't really know when they're there, but they're following your every move and learning your behavior. But the latest version of Mozilla's Firefox browser could give you some peace of mind by keeping trackers off your trail.

The 42nd version of Firefox adds tracking protection in Private Browsing mode to block content such as ads, analytics trackers and social share buttons from recording your behavior without your knowledge.

The update is available across the Windows, Mac, Android and Linux versions of Firefox, but not for iOS. Existing users will get a notice to upgrade soon, but those who want the new version now can download it from the Firefox website

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"If you don't buy something in the real world, the store won't know where you've been," said Firefox vice president Nick Nguyen. But with some third-party content trackers, your shopping behavior could still get recorded even if you don't checkout. That means you could still get served ads for what you had placed in your cart. This won't happen with Firefox 42's tracking protection feature.

To block third-party content trackers, you'll have to use a Private Browsing tab with Tracking Protection enabled. It's turned on by default; you can turn this off in the new Control Center feature under Settings.

Tracking Protection will not affect first-party trackers, such as cookies needed to keep you logged in to your Facebook account or save your shopping cart as you browse other items. Rather, it prevents hosted objects, such as ads, from monitoring your behavior to serve you targeted content. 

Objects blocked by Firefox's tools will just not show up on the page and should not break the website you're on, said Nguyen. 

Other new tools in Firefox 42 include tab queuing that let you send a link from your Mail app in your phone to your Firefox on Android to read later. 

The new features have already been available through the Firefox Nightly beta channel for weeks, and are now being pushed out to the consumer-ready version of the browser.