Why Block Facebook?

Some time ago I decided I no longer wanted Facebook in my life. By that, I both no longer wanted to participate and I no longer wanted Mark Zuckerberg profiting from my life. This second point needs a bit of explanation.

Facebook is not just a web site you go to. Lots of web pages have Facebook spyware built into their pages. The most obvious is the “like” button which is generally loaded from a Facebook web site. Thus, you just “told” Facebook what you are looking at just from loading it. You have allowed them to passively spy on you. Not what I had in mind.

OK, those are my reasons for wanting Facebook out of my life but the question was how to do it. For  a while we were blocking it in our Router but that became a problem with my daughter started getting homework assignments from Facebook pages. Yeah, I see that as “improper” but with the school’s budget they were clearly not going to set up a Moodle site. That led to a per computer solution which is so obvious. And works so well.

I added the following line to the /etc/hosts file:  facebook.com

As anything in /etc/hosts is used first (before a DNS lookup is done externally), all requests for any page on facebook gets served by the web server running on my system. I can assure you I don’t mirror facebook so with the possible exception of a local page matching the rest of the facebook URL, a 404 error will be returned quickly. Done. That’s it.

If you don’t have a web server running locally, I expect there will be some timeout delay. But, surely you will have something local that will be equally useful. For example, at home I have a web cam which looks at the street (and another that looks across the lake). Both have web servers built in but very few pages. So, an alternative to (also known as localhost) is to put the IP address of one of these devices in there.

One final benefit is that pages with Facebook spyware in them will now load faster. Seems like win-win to me.