Facebook keeps records of sites members, non-members visit: report

Published Date
21 - Nov - 2011
| Last Updated
21 - Nov - 2011
Facebook keeps records of sites members, non-members visit: repor...

Facebook has acknowledged keeping close track of websites its users are visiting after they log out, reveals a USA Today report. The social networking site is also tracking where non-Facebook users going on the web, even if they have just visited the site only for once.

To track the sites, Facebook is applying the tracking cooking technologies, similar to the controversial systems used by Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, Arturo Bejar, Facebook's engineering director, was quoted as saying.

Facebook uses two types of cookies to collect the extensive data. Facebook records the details of third-party sites directed by a Facebook plug-in, such as the popular 'Like' widget. The social networking site says the data collected is used to improve its security and plug-in features. However, it claims that the information is not collected to promote user-specific advertisements. It further clarifies that the sponsors' ads found on a user's Facebook page are based on the information provided on the profile and the kind of 'Likes' they make.

“Tracking data can be used to figure out your political bent, religious beliefs, sexuality preferences, health issues or the fact that you're looking for a new job,' Peter Eckersley, projects director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organisation, told USA Today. “There are all sorts of ways to form wrong judgments about people.”

How Facebook tracks you?

Facebook does not track everybody the same way. The site has different methods for members who have logged in and members visit the site without signing or are non-members.

Every time a user logs onto Facebook, it inserts a “session cookie” and a “browser cookie” into the user's browser. In case one visits the site without logging in, only one sort of cookie is inserted.

These cookies keep record of sites that uses a Facebook 'Like' button or other Facebook plug-in. The record includes the date, time and URL of the page users are viewing. According to the report, the unique characteristics such as IP address, screen resolution, operating system and browser version, are also recorded.

In other related report, Facebook is keeping record of its users' last 90 days of activities and removes entries older than 90 days. The social networking site is reportedly recording information such as users' name, e-mail address, friends and other other data on their Facebook profiles.

Regardless the purpose of keeping track of the personal data, Facebook has certainly raised a very critical question whether users should be allowed to opt out of being tracked by such methods. Does such online tracking methods by companies including Facebook make you uncomfortable? Or, you believe online tracking is part and parcel of Internet life? Let us know in the comments section below:

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