Facebook Farewell, Part II

December 03, 2007

This morning I ran across this PC World article, where a researcher discovered that sites participating in the Beacon ad service with Facebook where transmitting details of transactions conducted even when the user clicked the 'no' option and even when they were logged out of Facebook altogether.

Disturbing to say the least.

I have augmented my earlier Facebook scrubbing by removing all the cookies (there were several) that Facebook had left behind on my computer. If the Beacon service causes transaction data to be sent from participating sites regardless of whether I am signed in to Facebook or not, just deactivating the account isn't enough.

Obviously the sites participating in the Beacon service are able to find and utilize the Facebook cookies to track customers activities, and then report on them to Facebook.

Having been active on the Internet for more than dozen years, and on BBS before that, I know fully well that my privacy is tenuous at best, that it is up to me to protect it. Facebook and Beacon are neither the first, not will they be the last, to stretch the limits of what is acceptable on the digital frontier. That they have reversed their position on what Beacon is or isn't may make them less polished than other offenders, but no less intrusive.

Somewhere, George Orwell is smiling a rueful smile and gently shaking his head.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.