A new study that looked into Facebook’s privacy practices in the European Union reveals that Facebook seemingly tracks everyone in the region, regardless of personal preferences. Whether you’re signed in to the service or not, and whether or not you have opted out of being tracked, a Facebook cookie with your name on it exists, and can be used to track your online activities.
In fact, even people without Facebook accounts are being tracked.
Cookies are tiny files placed on computers by websites for various reasons, including tracking your browsing habits in order to deliver better targeted ads — and that is what Facebook is probably doing.
According to The Guardian, the study commissioned by the Belgian data protection agency revealed that any Internet user visiting a page on Facebook, even without being a Facebook user or logging into a Facebook account, is tracked by the company. After visiting one of Facebook’s pages, a user is then tracked with help of Facebook’s plug-ins installed on other sites (such as the Like button).
The report — which comes from the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT (ICRI) and the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography department (Cosic) at the University of Leuven, and Vrije Universiteit Brussels’ media, information and telecommunication department (Smit) — says that Facebook basically doesn’t ask for consent when tracking users, and even ignores the desires of users who know how to opt-out of tracking.
These practices are illegal in Europe, where websites have to inform and obtain the proper consent from users before being able to install cookies on their devices and start tracking their activities.
Facebook says the report is inaccurate, and that it hasn’t been able to explain its own point of view on the matter.
“This report contains factual inaccuracies. The authors have never contacted us, nor sought to clarify any assumptions upon which their report is based. Neither did they invite our comment on the report before making it public,” a spokesperson said. “We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us. However, we remain willing to engage with them and hope they will be prepared to update their work in due course.”
More details about the report’s findings are available at the source link.