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Is Facebook Tracking Every Web Page That You Visit . . . Even After You Log Out of Facebook?

Facebook cookies

9/28/2011 UPDATE: Facebook has responded to the complaints . . . sort of. For an in depth explanation of Facebook’s response, check out Nik Cubrilovic’s blog post.

Facebook has some explaining to do, if the findings of one blogger are true. Nik Cubrilovic, an entrepreneur and developer, recently analyzed Facebook’s tracking cookies, and found some surprising behavior. Specifically, even if you log out of your Facebook account, “Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit.” Before you get too upset, though, read on.

Cubrilovic dug into Facebook’s cookies, in a manner that is too technical for many of us (including me) to follow. He found that, even when logged out, Facebook was still setting cookies with his account identifier. He indicated that “whenever I visit any page with a Facebook like button, or share button, or any other widget, the information, including my account ID, is still being sent to Facebook.” He came to the conclusion that the only way NOT to share information with Facebook was to not only log out of your account, but also to delete all Facebook cookies.

A Facebook developer did respond, directly in the comments section of Cubrilovic’s blog. He claimed, among other things, that the cookies werent’ being used used to track individuals. He indicated that the cookies were used for fighting spammers, helping people recover hacked accounts, for additional security, and more. Many skeptical (to put it nicely) comments followed, calling into question the developer’s claims. Some argued that even if Facebook wasn’t using these cookies to track people, it could use these cookies to track people, and that was the problem.

At the end of the day, I’m no closer to knowing whether Facebook is tracking every page that we visit, or, even if it isn’t tracking us, whether it has the ability to do so. And there rests part of the problem- Facebook has been so cavalier about our privacy over the years, is anyone going to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt here?

Logging out of Facebook is not enough [Nik Cubrilovic]