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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Facebook Patented Tracking Method

Although the social networking service Facebook has previously denied that it was interested in what its members do on other online locations, the news is that some evidence has been found that Facebook had developed its own technology to do just that.

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One of the Australian bloggers has found a patent that was dated October 2011. According to the information the patent contained, Facebook has described there a method to monitor information about the activities of the social network’s members while on another domain.
The blogger explained that tracking cookies are able to monitor Facebook users whenever they surf any online services having an integrated Facebook “like” button.

One of the Illinois residents has already filed a lawsuit over such tracking on behalf of Facebook users in the United States, so he is currently seeking class action status. As for the most popular social network in the world, it previously claimed that cookies were tracking users by mistake. However, the latest post of the plaintiffs proved that Facebook hasn’t turned the tracking off. Instead, it patented it!

The representatives of Facebook maintain the official line that tracking cookies have only been installed when the registered members accessed Facebook.com. However, the opponents revealed that the cookies were set by all websites containing Facebook widgets. Moreover, it was found out that one of the tracking cookies monitors the users’ activity even if they had never been to the Facebook website at all, and even if they have never clicked a “like” or “share” button.

This is not the first time the cookie was found out: it was disabled after an outcry in The Wall Street Journal earlier in 2011, but later it has quietly returned. The patent, bearing the catchy title “Communicating Information in a Social Network System about Activities from Another Domain”, is all about tracking Facebook members outside of Facebook.com domain. The patent describes maintaining a “profile” of the users while they are moving around the Internet, as well as logging the actions taken on the 3rd-party domains.

In response, a spokesman for Facebook claimed that the patent wasn’t intended to track those users who had logged out from the social networking site. Facebook has also pointed out that the idea in question has only been patented, but hasn’t been used yet.

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