Facebook disavows tracking with one hand, files tracking patent with the other

Facebook, perpetually in trouble over user privacy, got hammered last week when it was discovered they have been tracking users after they left Facebook. Can we you say CookieGate?

Now the Feds are getting worked up, with politicians asking the FTC to investigate. And while Facebook says they are tracking anonymously for purely non-personal advertising information, the news just came out on Uncrunched that the company filed a patent that includes the line, "A method is described for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain." It appears Facebook cookies are so nutritious they stick to your ribs long after you wander away.

Rarely does a company get caught so brazenly lying with proof so fresh as the patent application made on 9/22/11. The "Facebook does not track users across the web," quote came on 9/25/11. Perhaps the memo didn't get to everyone internally. Or perhaps they couldn't find the employee making the contradictory quotes. If only there was some way to know where a person was, anywhere on the Web. Oh, wait, there is, in our patent folder.

Curse you Facebook

Well, I’m just gonna go ahead and click the little “Like this on Facebook” button. Doh!

Sean Anderson on uncrunched.com

Thanks for the article...Done with Facebook!!!!

1April on washingtonpost.com

Yeah. It's also possible, and indeed true, that Facebook is lying through its teeth, aggressively tracking now while claiming not to, introducing ever-more-pervasive and invasive tracking without notifying users or giving them an informed choice in the matter, thus forcibly paving the way for the future that will place them in the most powerful position.

Bud on news.ycombinator.com

To adapt the lawyer joke: Q: How do you tell that a Facebook spokesperson is lying? A: Check to see if his lips are moving. Facebook has demonstrated on numerous occasions from the earliest days of the product that it holds user's privacy in contempt. What else do you need to know?

Duff on news.ycombinator.com

Nowhere is safe

Its getting to a point where I will have a dedicated virtual machine just to check Facebook.

saturn7 on news.ycombinator.com

Between Facebook Connect and Google analytics/ad placements on every other site, I would imagine the majority of our internet use is being recorded at nearly every step by one or both of them.

Jesse Friedman on uncrunched.com

I closed my account earlier this week. I am a software developer and am fully aware of what and how a computer can track people. I don't like the idea of ANYONE tracking what I do, what I say, and websites I visit. From now on I'll connect via the old-fashioned way - via telephone.

AnonMd on washingtonpost.com


It's perfectly possible for Facebook to not track users at the moment and simultaneously prepare for a future where this is not only acceptable, it's expected. Facebook has placed a long-term bet that people will willingly share pretty much everything they do. When they file patents like this, they're skating where the puck is headed, not where it is now.

gyardley on news.ycombinator.com

Allow me to complete that 2nd quote… “we have no interest in tracking people…” but our advertisers sure do!

rick on uncrunched.com

The way FB is using cookies threatens all web commerce. You cannot shop at leisure without cookies. Their investors should never have let this happen, and anyone who's livelihood depends upon web commerce should not let those investors forget it. This is not a political problem, this is a business problem.

gannon_dick on washingtonpost.com

What's the over/under on Facebook becoming privacy conscious? A) After Congress acts, or B) Never.

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