What Facebook Calls 'Tracking' Is Really Stalking

person signed onto facebookIf you're on Facebook, you probably realize by now that you're being tracked by the social network. How else would the site know to offer you Amazon coupons when you're an avid reader or weight loss ads when you've been tracking calories on SparkPeople? But did you know the social network continues to stalk us after we sign off? How about that they also track people who don't even have Facebook accounts, but happen to visit a site that has a Facebook plug-in? All in all, that's 800 million people they're tracking the web activity of and keeping a 90-day log on. Whoa -- totally nuts, right?

Facebook says they don't mean to be stalking us even once we've signed off. Apparently, they just "can't help it" -- because there's a "bug" in their system. But it's actually a cookie the site installs -- something they said claim to have fixed, but that seems up for debate.

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While people are tweaking out about this, Facebook's basically been like, "Meh." They say the info they gather on us is meant to "boost security and enhance the experience of its users." Uh huh ... 

Well, on one hand, it's good that Facebook admits what they're doing. But on the other, doesn't it seem SUPER-excessive and well beyond what they should realistically be allowed to get away with?

Some people actually have argued it's no big deal, because people shouldn't be embarrassed by what they're surfing around looking at anyway. But even so -- it should freak us out that a company we just like to use recreationally to keep up with friends and family believes it has the right to so much information about us. Information that can be used to "figure out your political bent, religious beliefs, sexuality preferences, health issues, or the fact that you're looking for a new job," according to Peter Eckersley, projects director at Electronic Frontier Foundation. And what exactly do they aim to do with that kind of info? There's no confirmation that they're not selling it to third parties ... which is really frustrating and creepy!

Seems to me it's time for the government to step in. They don't need to take it to an extreme, but let's get all of this tracking business out on the table once and for all and lay some ground rules, shall we? Facebook is a private company, sure, but that doesn't mean they should be exempt from regulations that protect regular people who just would prefer to keep their Internet activity to themselves.

Do you think Facebook is crossing the line by stalking tracking people like this?

 

Image via English106/Flickr

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