It appears that some privacy protection tools (I use Privacy Badger in Chrome) block the domain on Stack Exchange sites. That means that the avatar doesn't load.

It seems like this issue on the GitHub for Privacy Badger describes what I'm seeing. The comment seems to indicate that it may be OK (from a privacy standpoint) to move the setting from blocking the domain to blocking cookies. This resolves the issue of loading the resource. However, the issue has been closed.

I think that more research is necessary, and this research should be done by SE (since they have made the design decision to defer elements to a third-party). If the graph.facebook.com domain is unsafe or tracks users, this should be considered unacceptable behavior and not used on the network. If graph.facebook.com is a safe domain and does not perform any kind of tracking of users, this should be clearly stated. Stack Exchange or an affected user should relay the findings to the makers of these third-party tools (in my case, Privacy Badger, but perhaps others) to find appropriate resolution.

In the mean time, if people are seeing these blocked images, they should be checking the settings on their protection tools. I know this setting made chat look really awful when certain users were in the room.

Related questions:

  • I'm not sure about this... should SE start supporting 3rd-party extensions that might break it? If not, then should SE never call graph.facebook.com at all? OTOH, it seems a bit lacking feature if an extension doesn't allow user to whitelist some URL... – Meta Andrew T. Nov 24 '17 at 8:30
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    @AndrewT. It's not about SE supporting an extension. This is a possible privacy problem that SE should investigate. If it is a privacy problem, SE should look into not calling graph.facebook.com. If it isn't a privacy problem, SE should explain why it's not and they (or someone else - I would, if there was an analysis posted) open a ticket with the 3rd party tool to have the default behavior of the tool changed to something more appropriate. – Thomas Owens Nov 24 '17 at 13:44
  • This is a reasonable question, but I think it could be streamlined a bit. The fact that some plugins may block this domain is incidental, so perhaps the title and intro could be rephrased to focus more on the possible privacy concerns for every visitor, of an image loaded from a Facebook domain, instead of the slight cosmetic errors for a small subset of visitors. – HugoRune Nov 24 '17 at 20:55
  • @HugoRune I am uncertain if it is a privacy concern. The problem seems to be that multiple privacy tools block this domain, which causes layout problems on the network. The fact that several common tools think that this domain is a problem is the problem - the rationale behind that needs to be looked at and SE needs to decide what to do. Perhaps they will simply make it look nice when these tools block the domain instead of looking terrible. Or maybe they will find these tools are right and not do anything. Or find that these tools are wrong. I don't see a need to edit this. – Thomas Owens Nov 24 '17 at 21:10
  • Gravatar is one of many avatar "hosts", not the one and only, and it's totally not related to the problem you describe here. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Nov 24 '17 at 22:03
  • @ShadowWizard If you change your profile picture, you have three options - gravatar, identicon, or uploading a picture to SE. These work fine and don't appear to be an issue. If you create an account using Facebook, the profile picture is loaded from graph.facebook.com and this may be an issue. If this is indeed a privacy issue, SE should fall back to gravatar or identicon like it does for other newly created accounts that don't come from Facebook and avoid calling graph.facebook.com. – Thomas Owens Nov 24 '17 at 23:28
  • I agree. I was just clearing out confusion about Gravatar, which isn't the issue here. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Nov 25 '17 at 0:31

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