About Lightbeam

How the add-on works

Lightbeam visualizes the relationships between the sites you visit and the third party sites that are active on those pages.

Using two distinct interactive graphic representations — Graph and List — Lightbeam enables you to examine individual third parties, identify where they connect to your online activity and provides ways for you to engage with this unique view of the Web.

The default Graph view provides a real time visualization of every site you visit and all third party requests made from your browser. The Graph view also provides adjustable filters that allow you to visualize more types of data at a glance. The List view provides more options for drilling down into individual sites. Site preferences in the List view enable you to block sites from connecting to your Firefox browser, watch sites you’re interested in or hide sites you don’t want to see visualized.

Lightbeam also offers an information panel that provides additional details about the site you selected and the sites it has connected to.

The origins of Lightbeam

Lightbeam began in July 2011 as Collusion, a personal project by Mozilla software developer Atul Varma. Inspired by the book, The Filter Bubble, Atul created an experimental add-on to visualize browsing behavior and data collection on the Web.

In February 2012, Gary Kovacs, Mozilla CEO at the time, introduced the Collusion add-on in a TED talk (now one of the most watched TED talks of all time) about exposing online tracking.

In September 2012, Mozilla joined forces with faculty and student researchers at Emily Carr University of Art + Design to develop and implement visualizations for the add-on. With the support of the Ford Foundation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Collusion has been re-imagined as Lightbeam and was launched in the fall of 2013.

To read more about the collaboration, please visit http://research.ecuad.ca/lightbeam

Policy and the larger tracking narrative

At Mozilla, we believe that everyone should have the tools to make their own decisions about their online privacy and who collects data on them. With the Lightbeam add-on, we are providing a valuable (and open) community research platform that aims to raise awareness, promote analysis and, ultimately, affect policy change in the areas of tracking and privacy. Lightbeam is one step in a larger, concerted effort by Mozilla and its partners to provide Web users with greater control and transparency of their personal data.

Learn more about online tracking and privacy

The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes the values of an open Web to the broader world. The larger Mozilla community sees the growing relevance of online privacy and is supporting several initiatives that tackle the issue in various ways. stopwatching.us

Data formats in Lightbeam

Visit our documentation on Github to learn more about the file formats used in Lightbeam.

Partners of Lightbeam

The Ford Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on the mission of advancing human welfare. They provide support for companies and institutions devoted to strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and social injustice, supporting human achievement and fostering international co-operation.

The Social + Interactive Media (SIM) Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design supports a wide range of projects in design and media, giving companies direct access to the innovative thinking, design skills and research expertise of British Columbia’s most creative faculty and students.