illustration ©Kat Caverly Enterprises inc
Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. ~Nik Cubrilovic
In an update, dated October 3rd, Mr. Cubrilovic notes that Facebook re-enabled a controversial tracking cookie that they claimed to have “fixed” back in May.
In Related News:
Facebook Patent Application Describes Receiving Data from Logged-Out Users to Target Ads
The Electronic Frontier Foundation weighs in on Facebook’s Hotel California: Cross-Site Tracking and the Potential Impact on Digital Privacy Legislation (updated October 10, 2011)
Dave Winer wrote how Facebook is scaring him and he advised logging out of Facebook as the solution. Nik Cubrilovic then pointed out how (and why) logging out of Facebook is not enough and points out that the only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.
Update: Facebook fixes logout issue, explains cookies via Nik Cubrilovic.
This situation spurred me on to action because — and this is important — I do not trust Facebook. I don’t put anything on any domain I don’t control that I don’t consider public. Everything I do online I consider public performances but this mistrust is not a privacy issue. It is an issue of the permission to publish. Is it too much to ask for me to explicitly authorize the sharing of any information about anything I do online?
This feels really familiar. We’ve been here before with Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg presented Madison Avenue with SocialAds, code name Beacon in November 2007. If you don’t remember, this is Facebook users reacted. Poor Mark Zuckerberg; Facebook users are paying attention. And they paid attention again back on March of this year when Facebook rolled out ‘Social Ads’ and the Internets lit up with How-to Opt-Out tutorials.
Facebook is renowned for not making it easy or even simple to opt-out of any of its ideas of how to monetize the juggernaut that is 850+ million user accounts. People may not always care about privacy in an open public forum, but Facebook’s popularity is rooted in the appearance of a closed walled garden. This current attempt to make “frictionless sharing” de rigueur (a social obligation) is way beyond Facebook’s usual privacy disdain.
Now much of what will get published without explicit user action will be app based and since I use no apps on Facebook I wondered how this might affect my account. Well, as I read it, any website that uses the Facebook Social Graph is sending information back to Facebook about its visitors. At its most rudimentary, an example of the Social Graph is the now ubiquitous “Like” button. I have already seen my own explicit actions on other websites posted on my Facebook profile but that was my intention. What I am concerned about with these newest changes to Facebook is that even logged out of Facebook, the cookies that this service installs are persistent and pervasive and I will no longer have to take any action to publish my activities on sites connected to the Facebook Social Graph. WTF= What The Facebook!
As I scoured the Internet for more information I read something that really alarmed me more than what Facebook has now wrought. Some misguided soul actually posted that you shouldn’t go to any site that you are unwilling to broadcast to the world that you have visited it. What? Well that tolls the death of privacy! But it is even more alarmingly the birth of the broadcasting of your Internet life, whether you intend that or not.
Personally I have only used the Internet to broadcast my professional life and since my personal life is my professional life, I personally have revealed a lot of information. This is my prerogative, not a third party’s; especially if I have not explicitly given them permission to do so.
Where is the outrage now from our consumer advocates? Are some aspects of what Facebook is rolling out this week illegal? Are we all so enamored with the shiny new scrapbooking that Facebook is on its face value that we are not interested in the fact that this so called “frictionless sharing” is not in our best interest?
In conclusion, I don’t trust Facebook. And the most valuable social currency is Trust. I do trust Google. The reason I trust Google is because I use it. I mistrust Facebook because it uses me. Again this is not a privacy issue for me, although the privacy issue is very serious one. This is an issue of permissions to publish my general activities for the greedy ambitions of monetizing all those people.
So, my course of action has been to:
1. delete all Facebook cookies from all the browsers I use.
2. to configure my browsers to delete all cookies when I close the browser.
3. delete all Facebook apps not in use
4. to delete all Facebook mobile apps
5. dedicate a browser to connect only with Facebook
6. spread the news, forewarned is forearmed
Brian Solis on Facebook’s new Open Graph
New Breed of Super Cookie Defies Removal- Almost…
Facebook tracks what you do online, even when you’re logged out
A Collection of Articles about Facebook Privacy Issues
Facebook Defends getting data from logged out users
Facebook admits it went too far.
‘We didn’t mean to track you’ says Facebook as social network giant admits to ‘bugs’