Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Facebook Businesses Communications Network Privacy Social Networks The Internet United States

Facebook Admits To Tracking Users, Non-Users Off-Site ( 147

Facebook said in a blog post yesterday that they tracked users and non-users across websites and apps for three main reasons: providing services directly, securing the company's own site, and "improving our products and services." The statement comes as the company faces a U.S. lawsuit over a controversial facial recognition feature launched in 2011. The Guardian reports: "When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you're logged out or don't have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don't know who is using Facebook," Facebook's product management director, David Baser, wrote. "Whether it's information from apps and websites, or information you share with other people on Facebook, we want to put you in control -- and be transparent about what information Facebook has and how it is used."

But the company's transparency has still not extended to telling non-users what it knows about them -- an issue Zuckerberg also faced questions over from Congress. Asked by Texas representative Gene Green whether all information Facebook holds about a user is in the file the company offers as part of its "download your data" feature, Zuckerberg had responded he believed that to be the case. Privacy campaigner Paul-Olivier Dehaye disagreed, noting that, even as a Facebook user, he had been unable to access personal data collected through the company's off-site tracking systems. Following an official subject access request under EU law, he told MPs last month, Facebook had responded that it was unable to provide the information.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook Admits To Tracking Users, Non-Users Off-Site

Comments Filter:
  • whatever u got.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    After this news spreads he'll have to spend way more than 7 mill to protect that pasty pudgy face.

  • I don't remember clicking that authorize cookies thing for Facebook. But I do just click yes to them all since the internet can function without cookies.

    • I just enable cookies by default. More tracking means more relevant advertising, and better news link recommendations. The more Facebook and Google know about my preferences, the better.

      If I don't want to be tracked, I just open an Incognito window. Incognito also works well for reading "First-3-Free" news websites, such as WaPo and the NY Times.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You seem pretty proud of the being a big part of the problem...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What kind of person -wants- to be shown advertising at all, much less targeted?

        • What kind of person -wants- to be shown advertising at all, much less targeted?

          You are going to see advertising whether you want it or not. I run an adblocker, but some ads slip through, and I don't run it on all sites. So, since I am going to see the ads anyway, I prefer them to be relevant.

          Now let's turn it around: What is the downside to being tracked? I don't see any.

          • If you know how and when to avoid it, as you clearly know how to do, you're probably right that being tracked isn't a big deal - and may actually be a plus. However, the issue is that most people don't know how or when to disable tracking.
            • However, the issue is that most people don't know how or when to disable tracking.

              Nearly everyone I know understands what Incognito mode is, and they understand that they should use it when searching for porn, or communicating with their KGB case officers.

              Incognito mode doesn't guarantee that you won't be tracked, but I have never seen an ad that appears to be related to my Incognito browsing.

          • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @12:23AM (#56456315)

            Facebook and friends are collecting far too much data on you, more than enough to impersonate your identity.

            Even if we assume that every single employee of Facebook, and all its data partners, are beyond reproach and would never stoop so low as to impersonate you to defraud government welfare, banks, or online shopping (given their CEO was alleged to have stolen Facebook in the first place, what do you think the chances of that are?)... eventually all that data is going to be involved in a breach and become available to all and sundry black hats.

          • There is no downside. Big Brother loves us all.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Ignoring the danger of advertising delivered malware, the risk from being tracked is that it is used to screw you over.

            They know you are interested in a new widget. They know you have seen it advertised for âX. So now they know that you want it, and what you think the going rate is for it, and approximately where you live thanks to your geolocated IP address and closest CDN server, and can tailor their "offers" to you.

            If you come along with no tracking info, they have much less information to screw you

            • Ignoring the danger of advertising delivered malware

              What does that have to do with tracking? I see WAY more misbehaving ads when I am in Incognito mode, so tracking appears to reduce malware.

              They know you are interested in a new widget. They know you have seen it advertised for âX. So now they know that you want it, and what you think the going rate is for it

              They also know that I didn't buy at that price, so they have an incentive to offer me a better deal.

          • The downside of being tracked is that laws change. What's legal today needn't be legal tomorrow. Did you stop that activity that used to be legal but is illegal now?

            Then there's that pesky data breach thing. You know, when companies that collect every minute of your day "lose" data which shows up in inconvenient places. Does your boss know you're reading those newspapers that don't agree with his political views? Probably not, but here's the guy that you pissed off because you didn't drink the coolaid and d


  • by Insanity Defense ( 1232008 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @09:47PM (#56455981)
    The word is STALKING. It is illegal in the real world and should be illegal in the online world as well. I leave your site (or never use it) and you shouldn't be allowed to STALK me.
    • How about we start taking some personal responsibility for our own data, eh?

      Right now, this entire situation exists because browsers give away tonnes of information to everyone and anyone who requests it as part of the web page. This isn't done on the server side, this is done right there in your browser, on your computer - so why aren't you putting basic stuff in place to stop it?

      You close your curtains when you get undressed, right? You don't do that because peeping at you naked without your permission

      • How about we start telling personal responsibility for being physically stalked, too. Forget demanding that building security keep the stalkers out, or calling the cops. What you need to do is *wear a disguise* and put on a *silly walk*. Now THAT is the way to deal with a stalker!

      • More and more people are saying no by taking the simplest path of not using it. But if you want mass adoption, it will need to be simpler. Explaining how cookies and referers work to my mom isn't going to help. One of my favorite security analogies is the car security system. It's a single red button on the key fob. Press it, the system beeps, and I am good to go. So simple, it gets used extensively. Online security is light years away from a red button. Instead there is a morass of advice involving hoverin
      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re "our own data"
        Friends who take an image and tag every face?
    • The way these people weasel out of it is that if they're not targeting a specific individual, it's not considered stalking.

      e.g. I ran into the same weird distinction in Everquest. Sometimes griefer players would deliberately drag mobs onto people camping a popular spawn spot to get them killed. Because they were non-discriminatory in their griefing (i.e. they targeted everyone and anyone), Sony deemed their behavior fair play and refused to stop it. But if the players trying to camp the spawn fought b
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are watching you. Hmmm... What's that at the top of /.?

  • Interpretation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @09:55PM (#56455995) Journal

    and "improving our products and services."

    Of course this primarily refers to the products and services they offer to advertisers.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @10:01PM (#56456017)

    Facebook could have distributed a free "please track me everywhere" browser add-on that added some flag to the http session so that their users were identified as such.

    With a bit of crypto, you could even make this so it didn't leak Facebook membership to third-party sites (for example, by providing an encryption key which Facebook can/cannot actually decrypt). Then everything gets sent to Facebook, but for the people who opt out, it's encrypted with a key associated with no known decryption key, and basically useless.

    Also, I think Facebook has the resources to support more than one major browser.

    This discrimination problem is a problem manufactured out of their own indolence, to their own convenience.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Opt out is part of the problem. Most of the shit show going on with the Internet right now should be OPT IN.

      • Wrong. EVERYTHING needs to be opt-in. Hey, we're doing it for sex now, it's way less ridiculous on the internet...

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          I know your trolling, but sex is literally the most intimate and private thing most people do.
          • True, but the demand for the double and triple opt-in that you're supposed to go through now is not only ridiculous, it also kinda kills the mood. And I mean for everyone involved.

            • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
              To me, trust is a big part of sex. I don't see it killing the mood.
              • Trust is the opposite of demanding multiple questions of "may I?". When I trust someone, I trust them to know where to stop and to notice and act on the clues he gets.

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2018 @10:31PM (#56456075)
    ...along with: "The check is in the mail"; "of course I'll respect you in the morning"; and "I promise I won't cum in your mouth" is..."(our only goal is) improving our products and services."
    Unless that is Yiddish for: "I just want more money!", in which case - yeah.
  • ... for the EU as we can start using them as a cashcow driving them bankrup. It's a win-win situation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This has been known for years. FB was convicted multiple times for these practices in Europe.

    What hardly ever comes up in the news or comments is that every website that puts FB-hosted 'like' buttons on their pages is complicit in all of this.

    Note: all other social media buttons on webpages perform the same 'service'.

    • A lot of (more reputable) pages around here have started something like a "double opt in" for Facebook, where you have to click on an icon of their page first to load the "like" button, so no data is sent to FB unless you explicitly want to.

      Of course, that icon is as obnoxiously begging for "pleeeeeeeeeeease like us!!!" as it can... but it's a start.

  • by jools33 ( 252092 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @07:38AM (#56457127)

    I would say that tracking of non-users violates GDPR in several ways, hope Facebook has 4% of revenue at the ready to donate to the EU.

  • It is very logical, all the allied sites provide all the data about all the visitors because they don't know who is a facebook user and who is not. True. Agreed.

    So we should just stop visiting all sites that support facebook login, (like slashdot) all companies that have a facebook page. That is the only way we can make sure facebook does not build a shadow profile of non users/

  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @08:49AM (#56457369) Homepage
    This is a lie Zuck chirped on Capital Hill, that users (now we know non users as well) are tracked when their Not on FB for `secutity`.... WTF does FB security have to do with non users not on the FB platform.... Nothing. When youre caught in a lie, all testimony becomes suspect.
  • Wow such bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @10:08AM (#56457775)

    They are saying that we non Facebook users are being tracked so they can provide us services that we don't use? They are saying that they are tracking non Facebook users to protect their security? All of us need to be tracked so they can be secure? Improving services by collecting data on users that don't use their site? They violate our privacy so that they can provide stuff to other users in order to make a profit?

  • ..and throw away the key.

    Facebook == CANCER

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"