Facebook once again admits that it doesn’t respect users’ privacy — this is what, the third or fourth time now?

This time, they were tracking your browsing history (yes, your browsing history using your Facebook account number) when you were logged in & when you were logged out.

Even if you were logged out of Facebook, your browser was sending Facebook a cookie identifying you & what website you were browsing when you looked at a website with a Facebook “Like” button.

According to Facebook, that’s now been fixed so the Facebook cookies will no longer identify which user most recently accessed Facebook from that particular computer/browser combination.

But if your browser accepts Facebook cookies, then your browser will still be sending cookies back to Facebook saying a particular browser accessed a particular site that had a Facebook “Like” button on it. There are a couple of add-ons for Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome that will delete those cookies as soon as you log out of Facebook.

Aside from using those add-ons, you can use one browser program to access Facebook & realize that all your browsing history on that browser is being tracked by Facebook, and then use a different browser program that doesn’t accept Facebook cookies for all other browsing. Or you can still use one browser for all browsing, but whenever you log out of Facebook you’ll have to delete all Facebook cookies.

Ugh.

Currently I’ve set Internet Explorer as my only browsing program that will accept Facebook cookies — of all browsers, I like IE the least and don’t mind using it only for that. Other browsers I use are Firefox & Flock, I like Flock best of all.

I’ll check out the Firefox add-ons, will be interesting to see if they might work in Flock as Flock is built on Firefox.

(I’ve yet to install Chrome on any of my own computers, in part because I’m happy with Firefox & Flock, and in part because I’m not real thrilled with Google’s endless tracking. A few years ago they started reporting to the CDC if there was an increasing number of people doing internet searches for terms such as “flu symptoms” in a geographical area. Google has a page explaining how it works & swearing that all user data is removed before the trend is reported to the CDC, but it’s still a bit creepy to me.

On a side note, once again Facebook’s changes have broken the link between Facebook & WordPress. I swear, every time they change something on their site, I have to delete & reestablish the link between Facebook & WordPress.

Side note #2: it doesn’t work to just reset the connection from WordPress’s side. I had to go in on my Facebook profile, delete WordPress as an app, delete Facebook as an connection in WordPress, and then start all over again from the WordPress side. Only reason I knew to do this is because I had to jump through that many hoops last time Facebook changed their layout.

Links:

Sept 24 2011, “Facebook is scaring me”, Dave Winer, Scripting News. Discusses how if you’re logged in to Facebook, Facebook has the ability to post to your Facebook feed what other sites you’re browsing even if you don’t hit a Facebook “Like” button on the non-Facebook site.

Sept 25 2011, “Logging out of Facebook is not enough”, Nik Cubrilovic, Nik Cubrilovic Blog. While checking on what Winer wrote, Nik Cubrilovic discovers that Facebook cookies are sending Facebook information about what sites with a Facebook “Like” button are being browsed — with the account number of the Facebook user who logged in to Facebook from that browser — even after that user has logged out of Facebook. Shows text of cookies & explains which cookies are tracking what. Reprinted as “This is how Facebook tracks you” on betanews.

Sept 26 2011, “Facebook Fixes and Explains Logout Issue”, Nik Cubrilovic, Nik Cubrilovic Blog. Facebook responds to Cubrilovic, changes the cookie that was sending back individual user information after a user had logged out. Also has information on what cookies Facebook is still leaving on your machine even after logout, what those cookies track and why. Reprinted Sept 28 2011 as “Facebook backs off tracking logged-out users” on betanews.

Sept 28 2011, “Facebook Is Tracking Your Every Move on the Web; Here’s How to Stop It”, Alan Henry, Lifehacker. Brief synopsis of Facebook cookie tracking issue to date, short list of add-ons that can remove tracking cookies from Facebook & other social networking sites such as Twitter and Google+ once a user has logged out.

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