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Facebook Tracks the Status Updates and Messages You Don't Write Too 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the let's-have-a-look-at-what-you-have-there dept.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "It turns out Facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting the post button. If you start writing a message, and then think better of it and decide not to post it, Facebook still adds it to the dossier they keep on you. From the article: 'Storing text as you type isn't uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don't expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.'"
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Facebook Tracks the Status Updates and Messages You Don't Write Too

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  • by rvw (755107) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:26AM (#45703869)

    Facebook has an option to download all your data. Do these texts turn up in these downloads as well? If not Facebook violates EU law.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:40AM (#45703983)

      Don't find this in my data download.

    • by parkinglot777 (2563877) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:04AM (#45704215)

      Update, Dec. 16, 2013: This article was updated to clarify that it is the browser code, not Facebook, that reads whatever you type.

      From TFA above, it said that the data first collected is not directly from Facebook but from the client's browser. In other words, Facebook is taking advantage of browser's insight (data).

      Other information we receive about you
      We also receive other types of information about you:
      * We receive data about you whenever you use or are running Facebook, such as when you look at another person's timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or make purchases through Facebook.
      * When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook, we may receive additional related data (or metadata), such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video.
      * We receive data from or about the computer, mobile phone, or other devices you use to install Facebook apps or to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include network and communication information, such as your IP address or mobile phone number, and other information about things like your internet service, operating system, location, the type (including identifiers) of the device or browser you use, or the pages you visit. For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby, or we could request device information to improve how our apps work on your device.
      * We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you're on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID.
      * Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of - and improve the quality of - ads.
      (source: https://www.facebook.com/full_data_use_policy [facebook.com])

      From the quote above (from their web site), it pretty much covers the 'download all your data' part in a vaguely wording way (bulletin #1). I guess someone has to sue Facebook to see if their policies actually cover the way they are doing now.

    • I just typed: livegoatseatchickenincanada, (into a status update box and into a comment box, but did not submit either one, I allowed it to sit for at least 30 seconds before leaving the page, more than enough time to send / save that text) a phrase which should be unique in my facebook archie. I've requested a copy of my archive be created / sent to me, I'll update this once I get a copy of my archive and search it for said text.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Or, just wait 'til your ads start showing results for "live goatse @ chicken.ca." Or, your friends and family get "jamiedolan likes `live goatse'" messages.

      • by bmimatt (1021295) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:08PM (#45705599)
        There's a Firefox plugin called 'Firebug'. It let's you see HTTP requests and responses. You could use that to see if what you type is sent immediately to FB.
      • More than a day later and facebook still doesn't have my archive ready for me to download. Facebook lets you download your data unless you have too much data or they are too busy using their processor power to serve up spam, umm, I mean ads.
        • Just curious, whatever became of this?
          • As of right now I never got a message from facebook that my archive was ready to download. I've gone in and re-requested the archive of my data be prepared for me to download. Hopefully this one will come....
            • Lol I'd ask if anything ever materialized, but sadly, I believe I already know the answer -__-

              • Lol I'd ask if anything ever materialized, but sadly, I believe I already know the answer -__-

                I've requested my data to be downloaded from facebook 3 times now since my first comment here. Each time, I've gotten the following email from facebook promptly after I've made the request:

                " You recently requested a copy of yourFacebookdata. We'll send you another email with a link to yourdownloadwhen it's ready. For security reasons, the link will only work for a few days after being sent, so please monitor your email for our message. If the link doesn't work by the time you read y

    • by arisvega (1414195) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:19PM (#45705089)

      Facebook has an option to download all your data. Do these texts turn up in these downloads as well?

      You know they don't. Who you search for, your browsing habits and clicks, none of that turns up either.

      I do not know what purpose this 'download all your data' option serves, but it is certainly not there to give you the option to actually download all data facebook has on you: it is something ridiculous like your name, your birthday and a couple of other useless stuff. It does not even include the messages you have sent and received.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:27AM (#45703871)

    I can see myself following a policy of "never type directly into a web browser, only copy and paste" in the near future. (And here's yet another reason to avoid "cloud" services and prefer local storage for anything personal.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Save yourself the trouble and just disable JavaScript

      • by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:56AM (#45704825) Journal

        That's about on par with the suggestion that people can save a lot of money on gasoline by walking to work or cycling.

        My point being that the recommendation carries with it a set of disadvantages that heavily weigh against it when it comes to convenience. Much of the modern web today is not usable in any practical sense without javascript. If you can manage without it, that's nice... have a cookie. Just because you only visit websites that only present archaic interfaces doesn't mean everybody else does.

        • If you can manage without it, that's nice... have a cookie.

          But.. I have cookies disabled :(

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I sometimes find myself doing this anyway just for the better text formatting and spell-checking available outside the browser.
      And also for those times when writing a large message just to have the site go "ERROR: TIMEOUT!" and eat your message.

      • One of the sites I visit is known for timing out. I'm always seeing someone post "WTF, I just lost a 20 page post", following by a dozen people saying "Write it in Word/Notepad next time".

    • Sounds like a great concept for a browser plugin.

    • It occurs to me, in view of Snowden's revelations and the presumption that anything that Facebook knows the NSA also knows, that we as a community could completely overload the NSA by daily opening a page and typing words like bomb, hack, DNS attack and poison into a post and then closing it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You first. Send me a postcard from gitmo.

    • by Arker (91948)
      Some sort of a traitorous browser is required here and I think I would try to close that hole first.
    • by rsborg (111459)

      I can see myself following a policy of "never type directly into a web browser, only copy and paste" in the near future. (And here's yet another reason to avoid "cloud" services and prefer local storage for anything personal.)

      Then add the Chrome browser location bar as well - since it's clear that Google is doing auto-completion against their search indexes. In fact, many "web 2.0" text entry boxes do auto-completion.

      Or you could simply accept that Google and Facebook are working hard to make the web a panopticon, and act accordingly.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      I've already considered that Google and other Web 2.0 have done this for years, since they will give you realtime results as you type.

      I'm less concerned about what I type than clicking a link that contains questionable queries and then searches with my identity. There's a million ways to make it look like someone likes something they don't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:29AM (#45703887)

    "The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you."

    Well, we hope at least. When Google's robot army kicks down my door for looking up subversive material, will we still be saying this?

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:38AM (#45703963)

      "The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you."

      Well, we hope at least. When Google's robot army kicks down my door for looking up subversive material, will we still be saying this?

      Obviously drafts do help you ... but I wouldn't mind betting they also analyse the data and use it to predict your preferences in exactly the same way that Facebook does!

    • You should be more careful. When you realize Skynet actually evovled from google sometime before causing the dot com bust you will want the robots to be friendly to you.
       

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:29AM (#45703891)
    ..."Stasibook" and be done with it?
  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:36AM (#45703953)

    Must kill Zuckerberg, Must kill Zuckerberg, Must kill ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H
    Must post cat video.

  • by MarsLander (742092) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:39AM (#45703977)
    FTFA: "In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts."
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:58AM (#45704155)

      I guess Slashdot accidentally stored a hilariously inaccurate version of the summary.

      • Oh, phew! I was afraid

        I wanna fuck fuck fuck Taylor and Selena and ruck them and lick their swetty boddies.

        Post? Nah

        was still in there somewhere. I'd be so embarrassed over the misspellings.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts."

      How refreshingly ambiguous! Did the rep agree on the definition of "self-censored"? Did the rep specifically agree that Facebook isn't collecting the text that you type in a box on their page and then delete? I bet they didn't. Facebook is probably collecting the text that you typed and erased and the summary is accurate.

    • Slashdot never lets basic facts get in the way of a good bitch-fest.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Chrome tracks everything you type in the address bar. They call it the omni bar, since this feature allows you to search right from the address bar, and get instant results as you type. It is still creepy that the save this data for several weeks, and then keep an "anonymized" version permanently.

    Ironically, Canonical seems to get the most flack over this on Slashdot, not because they save any data (they don't), but because they send data to companies like facebook and google, which are the real problem.

    T

    • by omfgnosis (963606)

      Facebook doesn't provide any user value for transmitting any data (even metadata) about content the user doesn't end up posting. They don't even provide any *feedback* to the user that anything is happening. They also don't provide a mechanism for the user to opt-out. That makes it quite different from Chrome's behavior. I'm fairly sure the same points apply to Ubuntu.

  • by jonr (1130) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:48AM (#45704067) Homepage Journal

    Time to create firefox/chrome add-on that types and then deletes all kinds of bullshit...

    • by G-forze (1169271) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:53AM (#45704121)
      Exactly my thoughts. This seems to be a good case for "poisoning the well", by using some simple Selenium script and a couple of e-books, for instance. Have the bot post random text snippets from the books to all kinds of people, events and pages, and then delete before sending. Make this data collection useless.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:49AM (#45704085) Homepage

    Facebook has become difficult to even type in the status box, because they're trying so hard to fill in suggestions and the like that the cursor jumps around. Half the time it jumbles up characters, likely because there's a crap-ton on javascript running with every keystroke.

    So everybody should periodically type "Mark Zuckerberg is a douchebag" and delete it. ;-)

    • If you're going to go to the effort of typing something as insightful as "Mark Zuckerberg is a douchebag" I say go ahead and post it. What's he going to do, de-friend you?

    • Facebook has become difficult to even type in the status box, because they're trying so hard to fill in suggestions and the like that the cursor jumps around. Half the time it jumbles up characters, likely because there's a crap-ton on javascript running with every keystroke.

      So everybody should, twice daily, type "Mark Zuckerberg is a douchebag" and post it ;-)

      There. FTFY.

  • Facebook? Still? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macbeth66 (204889) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:50AM (#45704087)

    Social Media was so 2013.

    Get with it, its all about meeting up with people in real-time. Awesome. You make a call, talk to a person and arrange to meet up somewhere. Say for dinner or a drink. Maybe even a hook-up.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Social Media was so 2013.

      Get with it, its all about meeting up with people in real-time. Awesome. You make a call, talk to a person and arrange to meet up somewhere. Say for dinner or a drink. Maybe even a hook-up.

      Ok .. I have friends and family on 4 continents, spread across numerous timezones. Can you please suggest how I am supposed to meet up with them all in real time, and in a timely manner, and without having to be independent wealthy?

      • by Hatta (162192)

        IRC.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I hear the computery folks have invented this thing called "electronic mail," which will let you send messages anywhere in the world without paying for airmail delivery (and fast, too)! They also made this thing called the "world wide web," where you can post things about yourself with special hypertext, and even pictures! You can even "instant message" family, with a live video feed (like seeing them on the television)! Thanks to the marvels of technology, one can communicate in real time with people all o

      • by DogDude (805747)
        Ok .. I have friends and family on 4 continents, spread across numerous timezones. Can you please suggest how I am supposed to meet up with them all in real time, and in a timely manner, and without having to be independent wealthy?

        To get family on 4 continents takes some serious fucking money. I can't afford to travel to another continent, never mind live there. You can afford not to Facebook, but you just have different priorities.
    • Meh...there's already an app for that.

    • by Minwee (522556)

      Social Media was so 2013.

      Real hipsters only communicate by fax anyway.

    • by fredrated (639554)

      That's awesome, when did you think it up?

  • Using facebook in any way + caring about your privacy
    = mutually exclusive.

    • Facebook is all about your public persona - your "brand" if you will (excuse me, I have to go wash my brain after typing that). It's exactly the opposite of privacy, and that's part of what makes it so great. I'm just lucky all of my young-and-stupid moments are only archived in old usenet threads.

      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        Google helpfully archived those for you. There is stuff I posted back in the 90's on usenet that I thought would be long gone, that google can still find.

  • but these are news from 2 years ago. /facepalm
  • Huffingtonpost, Facebook, and I wouldn't be surprised if they all di .

  • FB and Google are far more insidious in what they collect and how they use it.
  • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:12AM (#45704313)
    I don't save anything as drafts. I send them ALL!

    Even the stupid ones!

    Then when you sit down the NSA, they are in a poor bargaining position and say "Look, you are talking to a guy who sends stupid emails. Does my behavior suggest I have anything to hide?"

    /NSA agent starts sweating ...
  • The actual paper this story is based off is quite interesting and worth a read (PDF) [sauvik.me]. There's some really weird beat frequencies occurring in figure 2 that make me wonder if their data is valid. From the wording of both author's and Slate's article it appears that the collection of self-censorship data was started as a research project. If a user types 5 characters into a comment box, a boolean value is sent back to facebook if they decide not to continue, so it looks like its not sending what you type. I g
  • Facebook users don't expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.

    The benefits given to you by Facebook for your unposted thoughts are on par with those for your posted thoughts: more tightly targeted advertising and the opportunity to receive special offers from Facebook's partners.

  • Slashdot seems to send your stuff to the server as you type it, too. My phone has lags from half a second to 5 seconds in response time between keypress and letter appearance, while my desktop (with much faster and more reliable) does not.

  • Can and will be used against you.
  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:20PM (#45705097)

    Facebook and other social media highly deceptive and manipulative personal information brokers who have no moral code other purpose other than their own bottom elicit, compile, memorialize and sell excruciatingly detailed and ruinous personal information dossiers to the highest bidder including but not limited to all your future employers !

    Ha ha. Gotcha, sucker.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No they don't, that headline is very misleading and is a huge misinterpretation of the paper. For a small portion of the userbase, Facebook detect IF they self-censor and just transmit that. They only see metadata, and not the actual contents of the message. You can see that if you open the browser developer tools and watch network traffic.

  • Someone needs to write a browser plugin that would simply write/erase random (but grammatically correct) sentences into that text field automatically when your FB page is open but not in the current tab.
  • Someone needs to write a browser plugin that would just generate random sentences into the text field, leave them there for a few seconds and then erase them again. Let it run when your FB page is in a background tab.
  • If ever there was an emerging example of the inherit evils of Capitalism, it is Facebook and Google, and as people here suggest their main tool may be javascript. While I might be tempted to hide from javascript because of the abuse of privacy, I might be tempted to do just the opposite, make my visiablity bigger and, try to find the deeper vulnerabilities of the business model and exploit it.

    Facebook experimented ever so briefly with comment quoting a couple of years ago. That is the feature we have he

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