Monday, September 26, 2011

Facebook tracking and auto-sharing

This weekend there's been a report that Facebook can track where you go on the web, even if you are not logged in to Facebook.

It's all about how Facebook tracking cookies stored on the user's computer can be read by the 'Like' buttons scattered over a million or more web sites, picking up the details of those who browse by.

Today a Facebook engineer has poured water, trying to put out the firestorm, claiming 'We don't track logged-out users.'

But, the point is that Facebook can use this technique. And so can other dominant Internet players (Google). And that user trust in Facebook is slipping: anecdotally, I know of a number of people gradually dis-engaging from Facebook, reading and not posting ... Surprisingly, friends who have just had a baby have decided not to publish the child's photos online. Is this a growing trend in the Friends generation who are becoming more aware of how their data is shared without their control?

Last week Facebook revealed more plans to introduce 'frictionless sharing:' it sounds great, amidst the hoopla and bright lights of announcements, until the penny drops that this implies that news about the books and articles I read, or music and films I enjoy, or applications I use, and more might be published automatically without my intervention to an activity stream.

Combine that with the fact that random individuals can now 'Subscribe' to my Facebook feed without me first agreeing that they are a 'Friend.' No wonder that renowned pundit and 'protoblogger' Dave Winer declared last Saturday that 'Facebook is scaring me.'
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