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How Facebook Spies On You

You might hold your privacy extremely dear, but apparently your favorite social networking site, Facebook, doesn't give much regard to it, for even after logging off your Facebook account, the social networking giant creeps on you.
by Gunjan Mehra

How Facebook Spies On You

To put it into simple terms, Facebook is so well developed that it is capable of giving its owners an idea of what exactly its users might be looking up even after being logged out of their respective accounts. Courtesy of its cookies and plug-ins, keeping track of the other sites and web pages that a whooping 800 million Facebook's active users and even non-users might be interested in even after logging off is in fact child's play.

According to a USA Today spokesperson, "Every time one logs onto Facebook it inserts a "session cookie" and a "browser cookie" into one's browser. If one visits the site without signing up on the browser, cookie is inserted. From that point on, each time you visit a site which uses Facebook technology, the cookie alerts Facebook to the date, time and URL of the page you are viewing. The unique characteristics like one's IP address, screen resolution, operating system and browser version, are also recorded by the social networking site." Arturo Bejar, Facebook's engineering director was quoted as saying, "To do this, it relies on tracking cookie technologies similar to the controversial systems used by Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo and others in the online advertising industry."

In an attempt to justify Facebook's routine procedure of gaining an insight into their clients' personal lives, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said that the tracking systems are used to personalize content and help boost security. However, industry critics think otherwise. Peter Eckersley of Electronic Frontier Foundation opines, "Tracking data can be used to figure out your political bent, religious beliefs, sexuality preferences." Therefore no matter how hard you try to personalize your account on Facebook, the truth is that all your personal information is being blatantly viewed by the very people who guarantee you complete privacy.

Facebook is constantly bringing about significant changes in the way it functions, but what might interest you is the fact that with each change, you as its user are forced to compromise your privacy. Take for example its recent avatar featuring the 'News Feed'. This avatar has made it possible for all those included in your friend list to get instant access to all that you say and do on the site. But, without doubt the worst is probably something that you were completely unaware of until now - its ability to spy your movements on websites that contain Facebook widgets and buttons.

Now that you know you are secretly being watched, take care.

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