For normal people, this situation is extremely difficult to control. It's easy enough to remember to lock your door when you leave your house, but this requires careful inspection of relatively arcane cookies in your browser, not to mention the problems related to disabling certain cookies for certain sites and thus breaking the session. Rather than simply closing your own drapes, it's more like trying to close the drapes of all your neighbors, and making sure that no cars drive by. It's simply impractical.
The common solution to this is ornery, but functional: Use a different browser. I relegate Chrome to this task and use it exclusively for social networking and anything tied to common cookies, like Google. The kind and trustworthy folks at Facebook, Google, and Twitter must think that all I do is go to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and this page, because that's all that browser does. Is that a waste of local resources? Sure. Chrome is chewing on a vsize of 950MB right now and consuming some CPU cycles. Is the trade-off worth it? Most definitely.
When I mentioned this scenario to those concerned folks at the bar, they were all genuinely puzzled. Why would anyone do such a thing? It's like wearing two pairs of underwear, right? When I detailed how this method protects your privacy, some got it and vowed to do the same thing.
Others didn't get it at all and didn't care (and after a few beers, who cares about privacy, amirite?). They are either the vanguard of a much more open and relaxed society that doesn't get upset when highly personal information is readily available to faceless people behind faceless servers and could easily be made available to anyone, or they're going to be the ones getting fired when leaked data shows their late-night adult video browsing habits in excruciating detail. In fact, with the new Facebook Timeline, they may not need a leak at all, it'll just show up on their page. Hooray.
Personally, I'm not taking any chances. I'll be keeping my social network interactions firewalled in their own browser. Shouldn't you?
This story, "How to stop Facebook, Google+, and Twitter from tracking you," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.