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Tate reports: "When Australian programmer Nik Cubrilovic first blogged on Sunday about how Facebook logout didn't seem to actually, uh, log out, the company went into damage control mode, insisting that 'Facebook does not track users across the web,' which was pretty funny given that Facebook has a tracking feature its CEO literally calls 'Facebook Across the Web.'"

Facebook uses a cookie that continues to report your Facebook user ID even after you have logged out. (photo: Getty Images)
Facebook uses a cookie that continues to report your Facebook user ID even after you have logged out. (photo: Getty Images)




Why You Never Really Log Out of Facebook

By By Ryan Tate, Gawker

28 September 11

 

acebook admits it went too far. The social network is quietly retracting a cookie that continued to report your Facebook user ID even after you "logged out" of the site. But it's not sorry about five other cookies that persist after you sign off. What, you didn't think Facebook would ever let you actually for real seriously 100 percent sign out, did you?

When Australian programmer Nik Cubrilovic first blogged on Sunday about how Facebook logout didn't seem to actually, uh, log out, the company went into damage control mode, insisting that "Facebook does not track users across the web," which was pretty funny given that Facebook has a tracking feature its CEO literally calls "Facebook Across the Web." The company also said, "logged out cookies ... are used for safety and protection ..."

Except it turns out one cookie wasn't used for "safety and protection," as a Facebook engineer has admitted to Cubrilovic now that the press storm is subsiding. One cookie, "a_user," continued to report your user ID back to Facebook after you logged out, until you shut down your browser entirely. The cookie was only visible to Facebook, but the site could have used it to track your visits to other sites if it wished, since a great many websites feature "Facebook Connect" widgets that load content from facebook.com - transmitting cookies to Facebook each time they do so.

The social network, to its credit, now destroys "a_user" on logout.

But there are five other cookies that still remain after you "log out" of Facebook, and that stick around even after you restart your browser. Cubrilovic runs down what each of them is ostensibly for; Facebook says they, variously, track failed login attempts to thwart hackers, track new account creations to thwart spammers, track total logins to identify computers in internet cafés, remember your browser language, remember your device dimensions, and report the time, to the milisecond, of you last few browser requests, for performance reasons.

The problem is that, whatever it says about the intent behind these cookies, Facebook could be using - or decide in the future to use - some of them to track us for less noble reasons. The milisecond request log, for example, could be trivially traced back to a specific Facebook user using the company's server logs, as Cubrilovic points out. And given its long history of rolling back user privacy, do you really trust the social network? Cubrilovic:

These cookies, by the very purpose they serve, uniquely identify the browser being used - even after logout. As a user, you have to take Facebook at their word that the purpose of these cookies is only for what is being described.

Trust is nice, but concrete protections are nicer: Log in to Facebook using something like incognito mode, install a privacy plugin like disconnect.me to minimize the power of Facebook's cookies, and/or manually clear Facebook cookies in your browser preferences. Isn't social networking fun?!

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

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+44 # Abigail 2011-09-28 13:47
If Facebook had been around when George Bush was President, he would not have needed to resort to illegal wire tapping. All he would need would be available for him there. That is why I will not subscribe to Facebook, and I believe any one who does is giving up his or her right to privacy.
 
 
+16 # Billy Bob 2011-09-28 18:14
Maybe facebook is a private government contractor.
 
 
+2 # Barracuda87 2011-10-03 08:33
Facebook actually was around during George W. Bush's presidency. I think it started around 2004 or 2005. He probably DID use it, just like he used Verizon and AT&T.
 
 
+35 # noitall 2011-09-28 14:07
I "dropped" my facebook account months ago because I didn't like their policies but did I really 'drop'? Who knows? they keep all your info., it is not a simple dropping of a subscription. Facebook seems to have ulterior motives. Support these corporate pimps at your option and demise.
 
 
+20 # DLT888 2011-09-28 14:10
I suspected it was doing that!
 
 
+17 # James Marcus 2011-09-28 14:56
Facebook 'morality', which 'adjusts' Truth-Telling, and 'Privacy' to Definitions- of-convenience, Corporate Need, and Socio (pathically) acceptable Stretching, Is a shining example of what plagues our world today.
The game of Deception runs deep and wide. We all suffer to the extent this proliferates
 
 
+26 # wsh 2011-09-28 15:08
Two things: Why the Hell doesn't some competitor do what Facebook does (I mean, the things people WANT!) without all the secret evil stuff and PUT THEM OUT OF BUSINESS?

And why the Hell does anyone USE Facebook as it is today? They've proven themselves to be insidious...ya gotta be a dope to think a tiger will change its stripes. That is, they'll fix anything they get CAUGHT doing, but they'll move on to the next insidious thing on their agenda.
 
 
+11 # TGMisanthrope 2011-09-29 05:50
"And why the Hell does anyone USE Facebook as it is today? They've proven themselves to be insidious..."
_____________

The vast majority--if not everyone--using (being used by?) Facebook doesn't care if Zuckerberg is selling them out to the highest bidder, wsh, because they're "connected", thus seemingly relevant. If you think the voting population today is apathetic and-or ignorant, then just wait another generation.
 
 
+9 # Billy Bob 2011-09-29 09:10
Thanks for that incredibly bleak outlook that's probably 100% accurate. Remind me to avoid you if I'm ever seriously depressed.
 
 
+21 # Bodiotoo 2011-09-28 15:09
IF you are on line you are tapped into . Period. You go to a server right...and it recognizes you...dah! You really think you sign off?
 
 
+3 # steve98052 2011-09-28 16:43
"Like."

Seriously, however, although I'm annoyed by Facebook's duplicity on the cookie matter, and their constant interface changes (most of which seem not to add features so much as just change them), I don't find this threatening.

When I view a site I don't want tracked by Facebook and other "cookie monsters" (my expression), I use my browser's private browsing feature. (Chrome calls the feature "incognito" browsing; Internet Explorer calls it "In Private".) To the extent that we can trust the browser to do what it's supposed to do, that hides my browsing history from other sites.

If I want an extra layer of privacy, I get on the net through an open wireless connection (library, school, Starbucks, etc.), or use a free "anonymizer" site.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2011-09-28 16:50
I don't understand all this "cookies" and "logout" stuff but I'm happy to share what I say on "Mugbook", uncensored.
My main pleasure on "F.B" is sharing my current state, thoughts and views with friends and fellow nutcases, musicians, artists, architects, engineers, food lovers and so on all over the world with whom I have interacted, gone to school, college, jail, before boards and agreed or conflicted with.
I've expressed some pretty fierce and even controversial opinions on F.B. and hope somebody is listening.
I'm actually pretty combative by nature and even RSN has not published some of my more pragmatic posts, especially responses to seemingly right-oriented ignoramus statements, which I JUST had to kick-back at, whether knee-jerk on my part or otherwise.
So if they "come for me" or are building a file on me, so be it! It's a miracle (if you believe that stuff) that I ever got into this country anyway with my political history (and I was given quite a grilling by seemingly McCarthyite-shi ll-types in both London and Seattle, and later what seemed like a John Birch subscriber in Portland, OR).
So I really don't give a shit what Facebook does with my stuff. Possibly like Keith Richards and George Galloway, I'm too old and ornery now, have nothing to hide and if they don't like it -well, let's see!
I'm not that important anyway!
 
 
+4 # Billy Bob 2011-09-29 00:20
Interesting take. Here's the other side of not being "that important anyway". It's a double edged sword. Who says they can't go after a LOT of people at the same time. They have the technology to do it. It's not as if there will be headlines wondering what ever happened to you. Afterall, "you're not that important anyway".
 
 
-1 # reiverpacific 2011-09-29 09:06
Quoting Billy Bob:
Interesting take. Here's the other side of not being "that important anyway". It's a double edged sword. Who says they can't go after a LOT of people at the same time. They have the technology to do it. It's not as if there will be headlines wondering what ever happened to you. Afterall, "you're not that important anyway".

I'm not that paranoid either.
 
 
+14 # futhark 2011-09-28 17:15
I know I'm just a mid-Boomer technophobe, but I don't see the point of revealing myself on Facebook or putting myself in a position to be tracked. I especially hate websites where one is REQUIRED to be "on" Facebook to post opinions. To Hell with that! If RSN ever goes that route, I'm outta here!
 
 
+1 # Billy Bob 2011-09-29 00:17
I SECOND YOUR COMMENT REGARDING RSN and facebook.

I hate to say it, but my own wife is on facebook. It bothers the hell out of me and I tell her about it, but she just can't get over the concept of telling everyone she went to high school with how cute our kids are. I guess doing the exact same thing with email just isn't as exciting. I tell her that's like saying, "I hate going through airport security, but the gropers' hands feel petty good". That approach obviously gets me nowhere.

So, just because you're not on facebook, doesn't mean other people won't talk about you and even upload pictures of you on it without your approval.

For the record, my wife is just as liberal as I am about everything except this one strangely "acceptable" intrusion into our personal privacy.
 
 
+7 # Billy Bob 2011-09-28 18:05
I'm not in high school, so I don't have to worry about being bored during home room, and I don't care what Becky is wearing to the prom.

DO I ACTUALLY NEED FACEBOOK FOR ANYTHING?
 
 
+6 # soularddave 2011-09-28 21:30
How come nobody ever talks about MySpace anymore. How did/does that compare?

I keep wondering; What's the endgame here?
 
 
+1 # Billy Bob 2011-09-29 00:11
I think myspace was taking different liberties. I don't remember what. Myspace also got a lot less popular a few years ago right around the time they were bought out by newscorp.
 
 
+5 # steve98052 2011-09-29 03:12
If I understand correctly, Fox owns Myspace. I'm pretty sure that makes Myspace more evil than Facebook.
 
 
+2 # JJS 2011-09-29 18:14
My 80 something yr old father asked me what the hell this "MYFACE" sh*t was.

I said, exactly.
 
 
-1 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-29 15:34
I went to FB due to friends who are living with disease, when our site would shut down for overhaul. I never trusted it or others because they do sell you out and it is illegal, I do not see anyone bringing any lawsuits.
When I first signed up Mr Z swore they didnot rape your privacy, but he lied, lawyers set it up to keep the Internet being 'freespace' as his over ride, probably why a lawsuit would no longer hold up.
I am trying to set up Fundraising for my Cat who has lymphoma. 4 sites will help me, but I cannot collect a cent, and spouse doesnot nor wants FB yet it is on all four to use your account. I wrote to the sights and will see what I can do
Many grants, funders are out of money bacause USA is out of money and jobs. So I wrote for 8 weeks to no avail it seems Now I will try to get help thru these sites, what I raise can be later used for other animals because like me too many others cannot afford simple neutering no less Chemo. Now I want the drug Company names to see if they will help, Animal Food Companies. After being on treatment, getting a second chance, you just do not think not to try.
I have three pets in this MASH unit here, one gastro patient, her sister Lymphoma and we are waiting to see if young Lab has Lyme that is another story, thought protected/tested
only good cookies are toll house
 
 
+4 # Wotan 2011-09-29 15:53
The comments discussed here are precisely
why I cancelled my facebook & myspace
accounts
 
 
+1 # Innocent Victim 2011-10-01 14:01
Does it do any good in terms of protecting one's privacy simply to cancel the Facebook account?

I have done so and have not noticed any Facebook interferences - though that may mean little.

Also, I notice that many sites encourage the use of Facebook or Google profiles.
 

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