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

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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  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:21PM (#34391730)

    The problem is that it is tracking ME. Someone who has NEVER had and NEVER WILL HAVE a facebook account, because I visit some random companies website and they have that retarded Like It button.

    This has nothing to do with tracking facebook users, it has to do with tracking EVERYONE regardless of their facebook account, or lack of one.

    In reality though, its no different than any other web tracker, except now instead of using 1 pixel sized transparent GIFs, they put a visible button on the page.

  • Re:No surprises here (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:42PM (#34392086)

    "...double click or whatever or analytic services" - Agreed. Why on EARTH do people run their scripts, anyway? I've never understood that. What do you get out of it? The web works fine for me without all that crap.

  • Re:No surprises here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:49PM (#34392232) Homepage Journal

    Meh, facebook is just connective tissue; grey matter. I don't really use it all that differently from twitter... actually most of my FB posts come from twitter.

    The real content gets posted to Slashdot, LiveJournal, Blogspot, Flickr, Picasa, Youtube, etc., sometimes even Buzz. Twitter / FB are just open / closed syndication engines for that content, sort of like a consolidated form of RSS with some extra integration features.

    Relevant to the actual subject, StumbleUpon has always provided a much better "Like" button... since it includes a "don't like" button and actually does something useful with the information you provide by giving you more random links that you would probably like based on what you have in common with the other people who liked that link.

    Strangely, I have no desire to share this StumbleUpon "like" information with the rest of my IRL friends on FB / twitter, partly because our pr0n tastes can be quite different, but in general I just don't care to share links as a feed. If there's an article someone should read, I send them a directed email. If I find something funny, I might go so far as to post it to our IRC channel.

    Come to think of it, I think FB / Twitter might just be some sort of gap filler for people who don't lurk on IRC.

  • Re:No surprises here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nightlight3 ( 248096 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:51PM (#34392274)

    It's trivial to block this -- just add a batch file nofb.bat that replaces your host file with the one that has facebook redirected to If you use fb and wish to actually go there, you can have another bat file, gofb.bat which changes host file back to the one with facebook entry commented out (the bat file may call a little executable that flushes local DNS cache on your machine by resolving the affected domain name). In general case, if you wish to do this selectively for n tracking sites, with n>1, you will need one bat file that blocks all of them and one for each site that has just one site site unblocked, hence you need n+1 bat files. Also, going to any of the tracking sites to use their services will also cost you an extra click for in and out.

    Note that google, digg and many others are doing the same kind of tracking, whether you subscribe to their site or not. You get ID on their servers attached to your cookies, tracking your visits anywhere where their bug is placed. That way they can sell to some site A which you are visiting now the fact that you have also visited sites B, C, D, ... earlier (when and how many times each, what kind of content you used there, etc). Of course, if the tracking servers know who you are, they can also sell that info to sites A, B, C..., at a higher price.

  • Re:No surprises here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Magic5Ball ( 188725 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:18PM (#34392714)

    Simpler way:
    Block and (which serve the offsite like buttons and such).
    Allow (which doesn't serve like buttons or any scripts).

    The result is an ad-free light-weight facebook page without app spam in the feeds, faster page loads off-site, and no Flash cookies or other persistence, without batch file hackage.

  • Re:No surprises here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RenderSeven ( 938535 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:23PM (#34393908)

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

    I'm tired of Facebook because it needs no alternatives. Narcissists may need an outlet but they always have, but I dont need to be part of their constant need for attention. The one thing I thank Facebook for, is teaching me that my 'friends' have boring lives, and they have as little real interest in my life as I do in theirs. I find myself encouraged to go DO things that are worth posting, and having DONE something really worthwhile the reward has nothing to do with posting it on Facebook.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.