Facebook Privacy: Site Confirms It Tracks You After You Leave

Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social media giant has been able to create a running log of the web pages that each of its 800 million or so members has visited during the previous 90 days. Facebook also keeps close track of where millions more non-members of the social network go on the Web, after they visit a Facebook web page for any reason.

Online tracking involves technologies that tech companies and ad networks have used for more than a decade to help advertisers deliver more relevant ads to each viewer. Until now, Facebook, which makes most of its profits from advertising, has been ambiguous in public statements about the extent to which it collects tracking data.

The scary part here isn’t that Facebook is tracking all this data about its users.

What I find more disturbing is:

  • They are tracking this data for NON Facebook users as well. All you need to do is visit webpages with Facebook buttons or content.
  • People don’t know that companies like Google and Yahoo have been doing this for years. Think about all the sites with Google Analytics or AdWords. Google knows when you visit those pages.

Online privacy is important. But at some point you have to come to terms with the idea that you can’t be anonymous on the internet.

The real question is: do you trust Facebook and Google with this data?

6 comments

  1. Yeah, I find this all a bit annoying, and I’d prefer if neither Google nor Facebook had this data, though I trust Google slightly more. Facebook seems bent on forcing "true" identity on the internet, but I like the anonymity that the simple Internet.I use the Ghostery plugin on Google Chrome to block 3rd party cookies. It’s amazing how many companies asides from Google and Facebook are doing such tracking – sometimes I see up to 15 or so cookies being set when I visit a random news webpage. Ghostery seems to be able to block most of them though.

  2. Thanks for your article about facebook performing tracking. Since this page has a facebook `like` and a twitter `tweet` button, it serves to reason that tracking behavior occurs on this very page. From your article, I infer the internet is conceptually capable of being a large distributed monitoring device. Several companies have the wherewithal to exploit this loophole in the design of the internet. I find the tracking component of these big companies to be more than annoying. It is alarmingly scary. If google and facebook do this, there is no double that google and facebook are evil. It will ruin the internet. Maybe the Internet is being spoiled already, and users are just becoming aware of the extent. I won’t say the Internet is rotten.Apparently, plugins do exist to block tracking such as 3rd party cookies and social networks. However, I have no way of confirming whether these plugins are effective. I could have false comfort.Unfortunately, if I disband from facebook, twitter, and google, it only provides temporary relief. Must I disconnect entirely? I am so plugged in. A irrevocable system should exist at a base layer of the internet. It may be idiotic to say this. It should provide some protection for individual privacy and provide a non-negotiable opt-in policy. This will provide limited protections for all.

  3. Pretty much everything electronic we use today is tracking us. i.e. iPhone: http://gizmodo.com/5793925/your-iphone-is-secretly-tracking-everywhere-youve-beenI find this article far more scary. http://mashable.com/2011/11/17/paypal-facebook-send-money/ Combining my money (via Paypal) with FB and its HUGE security holes is just asking for trouble. Can’t believe anybody thinks this is a good idea.I use this chrome extension to help keep me a little more secure: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bgonpegbhnjepleakgjdbaepkfedhhnf

  4. I gave up on privacy long ago.. I am fully prepared that any aspect of my life is out there for anyone’s viewing pleasure..In reality, this is just now things would be from now on. The configuration of world is such that without being on wire, you really can’t do much, unless you are a part of undiscovered civilization. Come to think about it, I see that there is a facebook login button on this page as well.. so I am tracked, right? 😉

  5. Losing privacy is surprisingly difficult when revealed information bites you. It can happen in multiple ways. I suffered an excruciating 15 month divorce with withering amounts of discovery from a lawyer on a mission. It became utterly amazing to me what is not private information. It didn’t change the outcome. However, I lost a lot of money, time, etc. I also had to suffer through the character assassination. Moreover I lost a type of classified access. While it is not exactly clear why, it may be because I took a medication on a black list. I needed to document many things for the government to retain accesses. I needed to sign a blanket waiver. If I did not sign the waiver, I would lose access and potentially my job. Unfortunately, I lost access anyway due to something in my record. Most people do not.I am looking for new work. It is unlikely that I will work for a defense contractor again. Most contractors require a background information. They require the ability to maintain certain accesses and clearance. Since I lost access, defense contractors would not hire me. It feels like I am blacklisted from an entire industry segment. Thank you loss of privacy.

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