Privacy hawks would be astonished to know that Facebook has the ability to track its users even after they logout from their Facebook profiles. The shocking revelation was made by the Australian blogger, Nik Cubrilovic. You can find more about the in depth study conducted by Nik at this link. On its part, Facebook has confirmed the finding and has stated that although all the user data is sent back to Facebook, it is destroyed immediately. Critics are not buying the argument though, and what this essentially means is that Facebook has committed a privacy blunder.
The entire issue at hand is the way in which the ‘Facebook Like’ button works. The Facebook cookies that get stored in your computer keep on sharing user data with the Facebook team, even though the user may have logged out of the profile. Another way to look at this is to say that the Facebook cookies are actually stealing your surfing history, IP address and your system details without giving you an insight into this purported ‘frictionless sharing’.
This also implies that Facebook has access to user information and if it were to exchange this information with marketing hawks, it can earn billions of advertising revenue. Whether Facebook has already shared any such user information or whether it intends to do so in the near future is something that nobody can confirm.
This brings us to the underlying need to have stricter mechanism to promote privacy controls and regulations that cover Internet giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook with sufficient provisions to impose penal actions for such unwarranted transgressions into a user’s privacy. These companies have larger than life presence in every Internet-enabled person’s life, be it the personal life or the professional life. The fact that these major companies can make code changes that affect almost all the Internet users with impunity and in doing so they display a scant regard of the impact on the privacy of the end users is something that needs to be debated upon.
So, is there a way to track code-augmentation made by these companies in their products? Or are we left at the mercy of a few knowledgeable pros? This point needs to be looked against the backdrop of the fact that Facebook’s folly took an independent research by a non-affiliated professional technology professional who has shared comprehensive findings on his blog. It would seem that we will have to actually live with these follies until someone takes time to uncover these and bring it in the open space of the Internet for a further evaluation.
This is especially true because the way the Internet works is clearly not going to help in the setup of a Universal team of authority that could look into code augmentation and give an all-clear signal from the perspective of end-user privacy and security.
In hindsight, we need to accept such acts of transgression and hope to have smarter folks like Nik and others to keep a hawkish watch on the big 3 of the Internet.