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NEWS AND FEATURES

It's complicated: Facebook's history of tracking you

How Facebook's "Like" button helps it track your online activity

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For years people have noticed a funny thing about Facebook's ubiquitous Like button. It has been sending data to Facebook tracking the sites you visit. Each time details of the tracking were revealed, Facebook promised that it wasn't using the data for any commercial purposes.

No longer. Last week, Facebook announced it will start using its Like button and similar tools to track people across the Internet for advertising purposes.

Here is the long history of the revelations and Facebook's denials:

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg introduces the "transformative" Like button ...

April 21, 2010 Facebook introduces the "Like" button in 2010 at its F8 developer conference. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declares that it will be "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the Web."

He says his goal is to encourage a Web where all products and services use people's real identity. He suggests, in fact, that creating a personally identifiable web experience could be divine: "When you go to heaven, all of your friends are all there and everything is just the way you want it to be," he says. "Together, lets build a world that is that good."

 

 

Which sends data ...

Nov. 30, 2010 Dutch researcher Arnold Roosendaalpublishes a paper showing that Facebook Like buttons transmit data about users even when the user doesn't click on the button. Facebook later says that Roosendaal found a "bug."

even when users don't click on it ...

 

May 18, 2011 The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets collect data about users even when they don't click them. Facebook's chief technology officer says, "we don't use them for tracking and they're not intended for tracking."

Internet pioneer says log of out Facebook …

Sept. 24, 2011 Veteran tech blogger Dave Winer writes that " Facebook is scaring me" with its apps like the social reader, which can automatically share stories you read. This "kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking," he writes. Winer recommends that users log out of Facebook to prevent being tracked on other websites.

Except logging out doesn't work …

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