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Facebook's 'Like This' Button Is Tracking You 273

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the of-course-they-are dept.
Stoobalou submitted a story about some of the most obvious research I've seen in a while ... "A researcher from a Dutch university is warning that Facebook's 'Like This' button is watching your every move. Arnold Roosendaal, who is a doctoral candidate at the Tilburg University for Law, Technology and Society, warns that Facebook is tracking and tracing everyone, whether they use the social networking site or not. Roosendaal says that Facebook's tentacles reach way beyond the confines of its own web sites and subscriber base because more and more third party sites are using the 'Like This' button and Facebook Connect."
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Facebook's 'Like This' Button Is Tracking You

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  • No surprises here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korkwin (1648679) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:03PM (#34391414)
    This is nothing new. We've all known this.
  • Naw, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:04PM (#34391426) Homepage

    I'm not a doctoral candidate, and I could have told you that.

    Facebook's primary objective is data collection and selling it to marketers. It's kind of what they do.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:05PM (#34391452)

    You have a website that has pictures of you, your current whereabouts, mood, who you like, where you live, work, sleep, and every interaction with anyone else has just as much information pulled out and sorted. And you're bothered by the Like this button?!

  • ABP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scheveningen (305408) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:07PM (#34391490)

    And that is why we like Add Block Plus. Not only does it protect some of your privacy, it also speeds up your page loading.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:08PM (#34391504)

    Yep. I've been aware of this long before Facebook even added that feature. After all, this is the reason that most email programs/sites don't display images by default because spammers use it to verify/track email addresses.

    The stupid thing is that the websites just give Facebook the free space without getting anything in return. FaceBook has a free ad on every single page that sites display the Like button on, and all the site gets is the chance that the user will add it to their list of liked things, and maybe--if the stars align--their addition will be reflected in someone else's feed and make it go viral.

    I'm tired of Facebook, but there really is no good alternative.

  • Beacon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:14PM (#34391602) Journal
    The beacon is back, and better than ever.
  • Speak for yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:16PM (#34391662)

    You have a website that has pictures of you, your current whereabouts, mood, who you like, where you live, work, sleep, and every interaction with anyone else has just as much information pulled out and sorted. And you're bothered by the Like this button?!

    You seem to be a Facebook user; I am not. If Facebook is tracking me anyway, then yes, I am bothered.

  • by MichaelKristopeit163 (1939476) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:29PM (#34391880)
    you can still be tracked by IP address, browser version, OS version, available plugins, etc...
  • by sarysa (1089739) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:37PM (#34392020)
    Some people seem to have the delusion that companies actually care about who you are and why you're clicking this and that, but they only care about your statistics. They want to know that single white 27 year old female likes Lady GaGa, not that Janet Doe likes Lady GaGa...
  • by magsol (1406749) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:44PM (#34392144) Homepage Journal
    Why is there a "Share this on Facebook" button at the end of TFA?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:46PM (#34392164)

    Current leader in the Slashdot smug contest: admitting (true or false) that one doesn't use Facebook.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:52PM (#34392292)

    If you are in the habit of accepting and keeping every cookie ever offered to you, you were being "tracked" before Facebook got involved.

    For my part I *really* don't care if the website I'm visiting is tracking my movements on its own site.

    I -only- get irate when that tracking starts to follow me around after I leave.

    I don't use facebook, and that near ubiquitous facbook icon on pages used to merely annoy me for being a waste of space and an eyesore. But I wasn't specifcially aware that it was actively tracking me if I ignored it. Perhaps if I had thought about it, I'd have realized that it was likely wired back to facebook and tracking me, but until now I hadn't.

    So I do find this interesting. Not that I needed another reason to despise facebook.

    And yes, other widespread tracking systems also do bother me; I've regularly criticized google's reach between its advertising and analytics numerous times here on slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:02PM (#34392464)

    Why on EARTH do people run their scripts, anyway?

    Because the out-of-the-box default behavior for every popular browser is to download everything referenced, pass whatever cookie it happens to have whenever it does that, execute every such downloaded script, and so on.

    Facebook isn't really the problem here. Our browsers are.

  • by seandiggity (992657) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:30PM (#34392968) Homepage

    Noscript, Taco with Abine, BetterPrivacy.

    Too bad TACO/Abine had a release in June that was ridiculously bloated and annoying [theregister.co.uk]. I got a dozen or so e-mails/phone calls/IMs in the days the update went through, and I told everyone whose comp I had recommended/installed it on to get rid of it. There's no reason to trust that it won't happen again. As far as trustworthy ad-blockers go, I'd add Privacy Plus, Optimize Google (formerly Customize Google), and Facebook Beacon Blocker (although I don't know if Beacon is defunct or not, and this add-on hasn't been updated recently).

  • Re:Hardly news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:46PM (#34393218) Homepage

    I don't want to sound condescending, but I believe that you are missing an important part of what defines the Internet today.

    I'm not missing it at all, I'm just not seeing it. There is a difference.

    As tech enthusiasts, we pride in "getting" the zeitgest. Deliberately ignoring this side can undermine this goal

    *laugh* I am old enough, and curmudgeonly enough, that there are certain parts of the zeitgeist I just don't give a damn about.

    Heck, I still don't get this whole showing your underpants thing that started about a decade ago, I sure as hell don't want to hear about Survivor or Justin Beaver any more than I need to. Facebook and almost anything to do with Fox? Completely out.

    If I ignore them long enough, emo kids and the continuing popularity of the 80's will just simply go away. Baseball, however, won't go away no matter how much I try. ;-)

  • by dwinks616 (1536791) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:07PM (#34393596) Homepage
    You can't tell me they'd rather send you ads they THINK you'll like based on age, sex, income versus sending you ads they KNOW you'll like. They use general stuff like age, sex, etc because they don't know what else to do, YET. And I'm sure they are trying.
  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:25PM (#34393944)

    do you want to be tracked by slashdot buttons also?

    No, he wants a one click 'slashdot this site', to take down enemy sites.

  • by silanea (1241518) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:42PM (#34396434)

    [...] they only know as much about you as you submit to them. [...]

    To me there are two problems: First and foremost, it is increasingly hard to find out who is included in that latter "them". So many external resources are linked in websites, from JS libraries to advertising to tracking cookies from collecting societies to Flattr to Facebook to Amazon to what the hell else there is, that even with Adblock Plus and NoScript I am sometimes overwhelmed with what to block and what to allow. And it is only getting worse.

    The second problem is that basically legitimate features are spreading beyond what is tolerable from a privacy-oriented point of view. I have a Facebook account under a fake name and registered to an e-mail address that I do not use anywhere else. I do share links and other resources through this account with contacts there. But I do not want Facebook to know what other websites I browse. I would have to go through quite some trouble to maintain perfect separation of concerns in day-to-day browsing. That is unacceptable. Browsers need to catch up to what is reality in the web of 2010.

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