Even when you “opt out” of Facebook’’s new “Like” button program, here’s how Facebook still exploits your privacy.

While you have the new feature of “Like Everything” or “Instant Personalization” (or whatever they’re call it) set to “on”, you will be alerted at least once per site whether you want to opt in for that site to be enhanced with “Like” links. You can choose to opt out, so seems safe, right? Or, you can even turn off the feature entirely and not get bugged to make that choice and, again, seems safe, right?


Here’s why:

In order for Facebook to actually know whether you’ve opted in or not on any particular site, the JavaScript they’ve talked all these sites into integrating still has to run on those sites. In other words, when you go to Yelp or Pandora or CNN or other site that has made such an arrangement with Facebook, even if you’ve opted out, Facebook itself still knows you are visiting that site. This is the case a lot of times with many of the Facebook connect login features but at least in that scenario it’s not necessarily the case that live JavaScript is running on those sites served directly by Facebook.

To put it simply, even if you’ve opted out, when you visit such sites then Facebook STILL knows you are visiting the site and will follow your every move on that site. If you think that Facebook is not doing anything with that data, you are fooling yourself.

Facebook is competing with Google for eyeballs. Part of the purpose of capturing eyeballs is monetizing them. Google’s largest revenue source is something called AdWords which is supported heavily by a service called Google Analytics which many big sites on the web have deployed. But, in the case of many of those sites embedding Google’s JavaScript, Google doesn’t know who the person behind the browser is. Facebook, on the other hand, DOES know. Even if you are not logged in at the time, they can track you with a cookie and when you log in again they will tie all your surfing habits to YOU. ADVERTISERS WILL LOVE THIS. This is their grand scheme, this is their first step in an attempt to co-opt Google’s share of analytics services and potentially overtake that market by exploiting private surfing habits of members - did you opt into THAT? No? Too bad, you’re opted in whether you like it or not, and all your surfing habits will end up in a database owned by a corporation with a history of mis-managing the privacy of member data.

The kicker is - you have NO IDEA which sites will eventually deploy this hidden Facebook integration.

Given Facebook’s abysmal track record at taking member privacy seriously, do you seriously trust potentially the entire web to be “watched” by Facebook, with Facebook having the unprecedented potential to not only see the surfing habits of people but also tie all those habits to your personal and private info?

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