Some years ago, I seem to have posted a comment on some blog somewhere via Facebook. Now, it seems that every website I go to is defaulted to commenting with Facebook.

I have the ugly sensation that Facebook is tracking, storing and potentially making available to third parties every site I visit.

I have logged out, but several days later it seems that option returns. Its more than creepy.

On my General Account Settings, I have no networks, and no Linked Accounts. In terms of Apps, TypePad, dlvr.it, and Klout are the only three.

Any ideas as to how to get this security and privacy annoyance resolved?

My next option is to cancel the FB account.

Category: Legal, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

92 Responses to “How Can I Stop Facebook Following Me Around the Web?”

  1. poppysmic says:

    Use Chrome and the browser extension Disconnect.me – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jeoacafpbcihiomhlakheieifhpjdfeo – it will also stop digg, twitter, google, and yahoo from tracking you as well (though I personally recommend against blocking google, since it also blocks things like embedded google maps).

    Hope this helps!

  2. jbminn says:

    as I said on the twitr machine, delete cookies in your browser + then run some tests.

  3. Julia Chestnut says:

    Hon, I’m starting to think that those things just pop up for everybody based on the website allowing all those things. I have never, ever commented via facebook and it typically shows up for me too, depending on where I am.

    But there are two problems you can fix pretty easily. The one you already mentioned – logging out. Sometimes it sets itself to “keep me logged in” of its own accord – make sure that didn’t happen. The other is that Facebook sets a truly bewildering wealth of cookies – like a baker’s dozen. Killing the cookies each time you log off will keep them out of your business. It’s tedious, but it works.

  4. john-nicholas says:

    see if this works:
    http://disconnect.me/

  5. haileris says:

    Facebook does use it to track you. Your hunch is correct. If you want to protect yourself, you can use ghostery: http://www.ghostery.com/. You might have to whitelist disqus if you want to see their comments. Most Facebook Connect comments, on the other hand, are fairly worthless.

  6. dontwanttocreateanaccounttoleaveamessage says:

    It’s definitely the cookies that FB leaves behind. Here’s an extension for Chrome that will delete FB cookies every time you log out … https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bgonpegbhnjepleakgjdbaepkfedhhnf

    I only ever use FB with Chrome and this extension, just to be sure they’re not tracking me on the web.

  7. “I have the ugly sensation that Facebook is tracking, storing and potentially making available to third parties every site I visit.”

    BR,

    wtf? you have that sensation, b/c they are.

    you haven’t been keeping up with your EFF readings, have you?

    https://www.eff.org/search/site/Facebook%20tracking%20users

    http://search.yippy.com/search?query=EFF+Facebook+tracks+users+even+when+not+logged+in&tb=sitesearch-all&v%3Aproject=clusty

  8. flocktard says:

    Best solution is not have an account at all. Facebook has been a personal information sucking device since its inception, and the denials and the threatened legislation against them were enough to prevent me from ever getting an account. The default settings, which probably 99% of the subscribers never knew about, or even how to adjust, are pre-set to full disclosure of your movements. Why would I want to do business with people like that?

    I’ve got LinkedIn, Twitter, a few other board accounts- how much do I need?

  9. VennData says:

    Dump Facebook’s closed system. It’s Windows all over again. In more good news the support-the-entrenched-powers asshats will be upset by…

    Chrome 15 overtakes IE 8 for top browser spot

    http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/16/9493722-chrome-15-overtakes-ie-8-for-top-browser-spot

    America. The land of the Free. That’s us, FREE.

    Screw closed-systems. Bill Gates, Balmer, Facebook, and the “Grand Old People” who take money from entrench corporate interests who fight against net neutrality.

    Net neutrality is a very important issue for YOU. Understand it. Study it. Support and buy open systems…. I’ll clue you in Apple ain’t open.

  10. BR,

    btw, why (else) do you think that “Facebook” went from “0-to-’Everywhere” in such a short time?

    Govt. Spying via Facebook

    You could be friends with government agents on Facebook, and not even know it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has obtained documents that show two ways the government has been tracking people online to investigate citizenship petitions. Jennifer Lynch Staff Attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses the ethical issues involved if the government is creating fake profiles. She also says that the government memo opens the door to many questions.
    Thursday, October 14, 2010
    Article Link
    The Alyona Show
    Related Issues:
    FOIA
    Privacy
    Transparency
    Social Networks
    Related Cases / FOIA:
    Social Networking Monitoring
    https://www.eff.org/press/mentions/2010/10/14-2

    How Online Tracking Companies Know Most of What You Do Online (and What Social Networks Are Doing to Help Them)

    This post is Part 2 of a series on user tracking on the web today. You can read Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

    3rd party advertising and tracking firms are ubiquitous on the modern web. When you visit a webpage, there’s a good chance that it contains tiny images or invisible JavaScript that exists for the sole purpose of tracking and recording your browsing habits. This sort of tracking is performed by many dozens of different firms. In this post, we’re going to look at how this tracking occurs, and how it is being combined with data from accounts on social networking sites to build extensive, identified profiles of your online activity.
    How 3rd parties get to see what you do on the web….”
    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/online-trackers-and-social-networks

    https://www.eff.org/search/site/Facebook%20tracking%20users

    “Facebook”= Hollerith 2.0
    http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/

  11. naos says:

    There’s a lot to be said for using Incognito (or Private) mode in browsers like Chrome (CTRL+SHIFT+N to open a safe browser), or Firefox. IIRC, cookies last only for that session, and all history, cookies, and cached files are eliminated when you close the browser.

  12. wemmick says:

    As long as you are signed in on Facebook, you’ll be signed in to the comment system for any site that uses Facebook’s commenting system. This is meant to be a convenience so you don’t have to sign in again, but yes, it can also be used to track which sites you’ve visited, but this is the nature of pretty much any third-party “widget” that you encounter on a site.

    For you, Barry, I’d point out that “AddThis” button you have on the right there. AddThis tracks users across all sites that use their button to generate profile data that they sell to advertisers so they can better target their ads.

    How much you want to worry about this is up to you. Most of these trackers (like AddThis) do not store personally identifiable information, but Facebook surely does. As a programmer and someone who works in the online industry, I’ve seen how this data is used, and it doesn’t really bother me, but yes, there are ways it could be abused if someone was so inclined. Facebook has always pushed the limits of privacy, but there are a lot of people watching them closely now, so they have to tread more carefully.

    There are a slew of privacy settings on Facebook – make sure you review those and are comfortable with them.

  13. louis says:

    Who cares about that BR, Let’s get to the bottom of what Susan Swan is talking about. Do the Banks know about her?

  14. Iamthe50percent says:

    “My next option is to cancel the FB account.”

    Probably too late. Your data is in their databanks now.

  15. JVH says:

    You want to check out Incognito:

    http://www.orbicule.com/incognito/

    “Incognito is a Safari extension that prevents Google, Twitter and Facebook from following you on the web.

    It’s a jungle out there

    When browsing the web, you are continuously being tracked. Not only by the websites you are visiting, but also by major companies that embed their ‘content’ into other websites through ads and analytics. As a result, companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook have an almost complete picture of your online activity.”

  16. a guy called john says:

    I use Firefox and have the Web Developer Toolbar and AdBlock+ plugins installed. Use the Web Developer Toolbar to delete site/session cookies to log out of facebook (instead of just clicking “Log Out”). That takes a couple clicks. Use AdBlock+ to hide all facebook frames on non-facebook pages. Get to know the basic regular expression settings (mainly just putting the asterisk in the right place). Set it once and you never see it again. Works great.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/

  17. pastafarian says:

    I’ve never had a FB account, don’t go to their website. Ditto for LinkedIn. Yet my browser (Safari 5.1.2) picks up FB and LinkedIn cookies daily, even though it’s set to block cookies from third parties. Puzzling and annoying.

  18. Market Panic says:

    Re: “Any ideas as to how to get this security and privacy annoyance resolved?”

    In IE-9 browser always use InPrivate feature for all browsing. It will stop all tracking nonsense once and for all.

    http://i44.tinypic.com/xli8wm.png

    http://i40.tinypic.com/29criaq.png

    If you are an Apple fanboy, Reset Safari and turn on Private browsing.

    http://i44.tinypic.com/2mbsph.png

  19. subscriptionblocker says:

    OK, but you may not like it.

    I use windows – even though I know it is bad for me. The only way I’ve ever been able to get it to behave is to make the boot drive “read only”. This is the same type of setup you’ll find at any university library…reboot that box and it returns to a known, safe, state. The “rollback software” which accomplishes this is quite common, with many vendors offering similar wares (probably for macs too). Essentially, all of these systems include a “sub operating system” which boots before your main OS. These sub operating systems are very simple – and cannot be bribed. They remove any/all changes you make after each boot.

    The downsides? You must form new habits. Anything you want to save needs to be stored on another drive or network folder (should be your practice anyway). Forget this – and your data is gone. Upgrades are also more problematic…as you must pay attention while unlocking relocking your base OS installation. That said, I often try any “upgrade” first on a locked session – secure in the knowledge the system will rip every bit of it out “next reboot”. Allows me to check what these brainiacs keep pushing before it damages things.

    Is this scheme too complicated for use by mere mortals? Dunno. *Every* work PC in this household is equipped like this (> 20 PCs here), and my non technical wife delights in the fact her machines can never be “screwed up”.

    One of many similar products: http://www.drivevaccine.com/

    I like it because it’s simple, but their support is terrible. It also phones home at every reboot to tattle.

    If you find an open source equivalent – let all of us know. These anti piracy games have become tiresome, and I tend to settle for even inferior software these days just to be rid of the computer world’s meglomaniacs (like Steve Jobs and his traitorous iphones).

  20. subscriptionblocker says:

    And Barry,

    Have you looked into decentralized equivalents for facebook? The ones users can control?

    Pickings are still slim, but activity is ongoing…..suspect one of these efforts will soon yield a killer app.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreedomBox
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/nyregion/16about.html?_r=2

    Friendica
    diaspora
    buddycloud
    http://info.dfrn.org/
    http://foocorp.org/projects/fooplug/

    Friends don’t let friends use facebook……

    And given the threats out there: http://projects.wsj.com/surveillance-catalog/

    Many are just dropping out into private internets – like this one: http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/

    What else can you do when governments and carpetbaggers around the world feel entitled to invade your privacy?

  21. kken says:

    I work in the database industry and the answer to the question is that it is very difficult to avoid being tracked. The more scary answer is that it will soon become impossible.
    To erase cookies is not enough since your computer can still be identified. Private browsing is a solution but often you cannot log in while you are in such a mode.
    You can get things reset when you change your ISP or when you change your computer since at that time nobody “knows” you even remotely.
    The solution I found personally is to create several identities, simply because I do not want “everyone” to be able to read or see “everything”. Nevertheless, I am still thinking of canceling my Facebook account. The encroachment on privacy is simply unbelievable. New features should be opt-in, they are not and consequently you simply loose control of your information. Let’s take an example: Face recognition. Your sister takes a picture of you drunk at her wedding. She post the picture on Facebook and tag it. Lo, 2 days later when the personnel department of the company you’re applying to types your name on Google, guess what is the first picture which pops up?
    And this will get worse whatever the controversies because this is how these sites make money.
    Question is: Is your Facebook account more valuable than your privacy?

  22. Coming Soon: Retroactive Surveillance on Anyone
    December 17th, 2011

    Via: Network World:

    As the price of digital storage drops and the technology to tap electronic communication improves, authoritarian governments will soon be able to perform retroactive surveillance on anyone within their borders, according to a Brookings Institute report.

    These regimes will store every phone call, instant message, email, social media interaction, text message, movements of people and vehicles and public surveillance video and mine it at their leisure, according to “Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Government,” written by John Villaseno, a senior fellow at Brookings and a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA.

    That will enable shadowing people’s movements and communications that took place before the individuals became suspects, he says.

    “For example, if an anti-regime demonstrator previously unknown to security services is arrested, it will be possible to go back in time to scrutinize the demonstrator’s phone conversations, automobile travels, and the people he or she met in the months and even years leading up to the arrest,” the report says.

    “These enormous databases of captured information will create what amounts to a surveillance time machine. … This will fundamentally change the dynamics of dissent, insurgency and revolution,” the report says…”
    http://cryptogon.com/?p=26524

    note: Via: Network World — government-surveillance
    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/121511-government-surveillance-254137.html?hpg1=bn

  23. MikeW_CA says:

    I’d be surprised if Facebook didn’t have the free use of a big server farm in Fort Meade, MD.

  24. Frilton Miedman says:

    In conjunction with Mark Hoffler’s post above, SOPA and Net Neutrality are EXTREMELY concerning.

    With the advent of corporatism (fascism), where money buys the rule of law irregardless of the Constitution, a corporation can potentially limit your peripheral of information or educational resources to what suites their agenda…the internet could become a Fox Network of one sided information where certain “unsuitable” websites are denied public access because a line on a page quoted someone without their permission, or any of a plethora of reasons, that your IP provider or search engine decides to deny you access to.

    -

    Knowing Zuckerberg’s history at Harvard for blatantly lying to members & taking their personal info without their consent, I reluctantly opened an account recently.

    I signed up as a 90 year old man and have been getting boatloads of Emails from AARP/healthcare offers, I also got a browser pop-up for some kind of supplemental medicare insurance.

    I suspect F-book goes a step further than just logging Emails and personal info for marketing, it may also save and track IP addresses the same way search engines do.

  25. reedsch says:

    I’ve done a searches on Google as well, and then in subsequent browsing on non-Google sites (not even linked from the big G) seen ads that were surprisingly closely related to an earlier search. Somebody out there knows all about my sexual fetishes, my political predilections, and my favorite pastimes.

    ~~~

    BR: That is a setting on Google — you can turn on and off

  26. JimRino says:

    The tech industry needs to come up with a “Confidential-Facebook”.
    Where you buy a web site, get a url,
    have it set up a database for storage,
    get a Facebook template page,
    and contact email, to invite your friends to your personal-confidential-facebook.

    Sick and Tired of Facebook Spying.

  27. JimRino says:

    Let’s face it, Facebook is a Pervert’s/Peeping-Tom’s Dream.
    That’s the motivation for this product.
    Kreepy Kuckerbery.

  28. kbelenky says:

    I’ll assume you’re using Chrome. If you’re not, start using Chrome.

    1. Delete all your FB cookies in your browser. Go to Options->Under The Hood->Content Settings->All Cookies and Data. Use the search box to find any cookies from Facebook.com or anything else that looks Facebook-ish. Delete them.

    2. Blacklist any future cookies from FB. Go to Options->Under The Hood->Content Settings->Manage Exceptions. Under “Hostname Pattern” type “facebook.com” and select “Block” from the dropdown box for the behavior.

    3. If you want to use FB, only ever use Facebook from an incognito window. This will prevent all of FB’s other tricks for tracking you.

    Also, someone mentioned, “don’t have an account” as an option. That only does so much. FB builds what are called “shadow profiles” for people who don’t have accounts. They don’t necessarily know who you are, but they know a whole lot else about you (including the fact that you are one person).

  29. deanscamaro says:

    Gee, after I found that ending “social networking” wouldn’t end my life, I haven’t had that problem. Why does everyone have this frantic need to be networking with everyone about every minute in their lives. I just eliminated my Facebook account and ended all that crap.

  30. V says:

    Set browser to delete cookies on exit.

    If using firefox I recommend the following addons:

    Ghostery – will block all ‘trackers, for example on this site there is Doubleclick, Federated Media, Google Analytics, SiteMeter and Technorati Media all doing various tracking things.
    (You can customise which things you want to leave enabled)

    Better Privacy – will remove flash cookies (these are different to the regular type of cookies)

  31. howardoark says:

    Resistance is …..futile

  32. Shrish says:

    Barry,

    I would suggest that you use two browsers – Chrome and Firefox. Use Chrome for all websites where you do not want to enter passwords again and again like your gmail (essentially you want your details to be remembered by the browser)

    Use Firefox for everything including sites as above. Set the privacy settings in Firefox to never remember your history. Also select the option to tell websites not to track you. Now whenever you will close Firefox, it will delete all cookies. While you may still see the option to use your facebook account to make post, you wont see “posting as BR”. I have found this as one way of preventing sites from tracking your details. While I can’t guarantee that you wont be tracked at ISP level, at least the sites won’t have your information.

    Hope this helps.

  33. interguru says:

    Download and install another browser, such as Opera ( http://www.opera.com/ ), and use it only for Facebook and nothing else.

    Facebook will not be able to “see” what you are doing on other browsers.

  34. MikeInSF says:

    Barry: As others have noted – yes, you’re being tracked. My approach:

    I use Firefox with Ghostery, AdBlock, and NoScript and disable cookies for mostly everything. I white-list trusted sites only. I use Safari with Ghostery for everything else that requires a cookie, including FB (and delete them upon closing).

    If you want to use FB, use of a single browser with or without add-ons will probably not gain you much privacy given FB’s use of java scripting and cookie drops on third-party sites. Once you allow FB to set a cookie, you’re open game to tracking until you delete it and disable it for FB, hence the above approach.

    Use of proxies (such as Tor) is not a bad idea either if you’re serious about not being tracked.

  35. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    MEH:

    Good stuff on the retroactive spying.

    It reminds me somewhat of the former East German Stasi. From what I understand, every third person in the country was a spy, and when the Berlin wall came down, warehouses full of mouldering reports were found. Reportedly, there was so much data, it couldn’t be analyzed, much less put into any kind of searchable or useful order.

    I don’t think our system is so constrained. Big brother isn’t just watching you, he’s recording you. No static at all. Can’t wait until my comments here are used as evidence of criminal liberalism.

    deanscamaro:

    Same here. Done with it.

  36. theexpertisin says:

    I agree with deanscamaro.

    Putting the kabosh on one’s broad-based social networking is more a welcome respite from time-wasting mayhem than a burden. Count me out on the Facebook malarky.

    I don’t give a shit what my second cousin had for dinner.

  37. GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

    It’s not just your browser that has cookies. Adobe has its own cookies that you can only turn off by a convoluted and deliberately confusing set of commands that change periodically. Probably other common programs are doing the same, but I just don’t know about them.

    My former ISP, Earthlink, has installed some stuff that not even their tech support can get rid of, or at least is willing to tell me how to delete it.

  38. Frwip says:

    Barry,

    The best approach would be to 1) cancel your Facebook account and refuse to use anything related to Facebook for yourself or your friends and 2) black list any address associated with Facebook at the IP stack level (messing with your static DNS entries) so it redirects to a local server that terminates immediately all accesses with a RESET so your various programs don’t just hang waiting to connect to that sea of pus.

    The next best approach 1) cancel your Facebook account and refuse to use anything related to Facebook for yourself or your friends and 2) use a browser with a built-in or add-on blocker, for instance Firefox with AdBlockPlus, and bar your browser from connecting to and accepting any cookies to anything in at least the facebook.* and fbcdn.net domains. Setting up a local proxy like Privoxy to filter out those domains also works but it’s really clumsy. If you really need to access Facebook from time to time, step 3) is to set up an alternate profile without the blocking, only for Facebook, and configure it to completely clear the profile, history, cookies, etc on each restart, for instance using Firefox with the -no-remote -p MyFacebookProfile options and all options set in the “Clear Recent History” options of this profile.

    In any case, step 1) is always to cancel your Facebook account and refuse to use anything related to Facebook for yourself or your friends. Never, ever let Facebook know anything about you or even, if you can, touch your machines. They are the worst of the worse, the Goldman Sacks of Internet, if you will.

  39. Mike in Nola says:

    I realize i’m probablywasting my time since it is a msft product and everyone seems to know they can’t do anything right. But ie9 has very good tracking protection.

    Easy fix is to go to “tools/manage add ons.” Click on “tracking protection.” Click your personalized list and settings. Set it to automatically block and turn down control near the bottom of the window labelled “Show content from providers …” from 30 to 3. This will block items that appear on more than 3 of the sites you’ve visted and will get rid of tracking by google, facebook and othe annoyances. You can also set it to manual and pick sites you want blocked.

    For even more more protection, choose “get a tracking protection list online” and tell it to install the fanboy list which is the same as the FF Adblock Plus list. Enable it and you are done.

    sorry for the weird typingvbut my laptop is suffering from the “Raisin Bran Syndrome” and a numer of keys aren’t working after a dousing. Am using an on-screen key board and mouse to type til i get a replacement keyboard; taking it apart and cleaning the keyboard didn’t help :) btw, you can get the on screen keyboard thru Accessibilty Settings, which has links on login screen and control panel. Otherwise, i couldn’t even have logged onto the laptop.

  40. realgm says:

    Hi Barry,

    I didn’t go through everyone’s post here, but I did read an article about facebook tracking people’s online activities.

    Apparently facebook uses some cookies to track all the sites you have visited even if you are log off from facebook.

    Basically, if you go to facebook, login, logout, then start browsing, facebook can track everywhere you go since then. It is a browser base technology, so if you use IE to check facebook, then everywhere you go with IE would be tracked.

    I saw a proposed solution is to use 2 browsers. One that you use to browse only facebook and not storing any history, cookie, whatever. Another browser that you do all your other activities.

  41. Long term says:

    I just posted these great ideas to my FB page

  42. Long term says:

    I just posted these great ideas to my FB page

  43. lasvegaswebdesigner says:

    Try pressing Control-Shift-delete to clear your web browsing history.

    Then, use a different browser like Firefox or Google Chrome for Facebook stuff. This way, you can be logged into Facebook on one browser and surfing the net in the other at the same time without worry.

  44. bear_in_mind says:

    Hi Barry,

    A lot of great advice from previous posts, all sizing-up the sad state of affairs with FB. Basically, if you use it, expect to have persistent cookies and/or ‘beacons’ that track your activity unless you’re prepared to engage in the manifold firewall measures others have suggested.

    I haven’t pulled-the-plug on FB, but use it very sparingly. Like others, I have one browser which I use exclusively for FB, then clear it out of all cookies and history after each usage.

    One separate issue: many content providers (i.e. NY Times, WaPo, et al) are indeed embedding FB feeds onto their pages. This does not necessarily indicate they’re linked to your FB account, unless of course, you’re not extinguishing your sessions and/or persistent cookies.

    My advice: apply the aforementioned advice to mitigate tracking cookies; and reduce your FB activity and footprint to an absolute minimum.

    ~B-I-M

  45. mitchw says:

    Barry, I just got at least 15 cookies from your site put onto my browser. I know because I cleared all my cookies out first. You’re doing it too.

  46. Whiskey Lunch says:

    I regularly use CCleaner to wipe my cookies and cache files… it also allows me to whitelist trusted sites.

    I use firefox for browsing which offers me the use of a plugin called ‘BetterPrivacy’ …which deletes ‘super-cookies’. Facebook is suspect of using ‘super-cookies’ and ‘evercookies’ …though they deny it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evercookie

    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/tech-report-blog/super-cookies

  47. [...] The soft fascism of Faceborg Big Picture. OK, I used the F-word, not the poster. But still…. [...]

  48. mars10 says:

    I think you can eliminate the specific behavior that you asked about by simply disabling the FB app platform. You won’t be able to use the 2 or 3 apps you mentioned anymore, though.

  49. mars10 says:

    I think you can eliminate the specific behavior that you asked about by simply disabling the FB app platform. You won’t be able to use the 2 or 3 apps you mentioned anymore, though.

  50. Dave Winer says:

    Facebook is scaring me

    Yesterday I wrote that Twitter should be scared of Facebook. Today it’s worse. I, as a mere user of Facebook, am seriously scared of them.

    Every time they make a change, people get angry. I’ve never myself been angry because I have always assumed everything I post to Facebook is public. That the act of putting something there, a link, picture, mini-essay, is itself a public act.

    This time, however, they’re doing something that I think is really scary, and virus-like. The kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking.

    A picture named lucyCharlieFootball.gifWhat clued me in was an article on ReadWriteWeb that says that just reading an article on their site may create an announcement on Facebook. Something like: “Bull Mancuso just read a tutorial explaining how to kill a member of another crime family.” Bull didn’t comment. He didn’t press a Like button. He just visited a web page. And an announcement was made on his behalf to everyone who follows him on Facebook. Not just his friends, because now they have subscribers, who can be total strangers.

    Now, I’m not technically naive. I understood before that the Like buttons were extensions of Facebook. They were surely keeping track of all the places I went. And if I went to places that were illegal, they would be reported to government agencies. Bull Mancuso in the example above has more serious things to worry about than his mother finding out that he’s a hitman for the mob. (Both are fictitious characters, and in my little story his mom already knows he’s a hitman.)

    There could easily be lawsuits, divorces, maybe even arrests based on what’s made public by Facebook.

  51. DeDude says:

    Stay away from Facebook. Facebook is evil. They pretend to be your friend but they abuse and sell all information that they can suck out of you.

  52. rd says:

    I have never had a Facebook account. I don’t plan to have one. There has been no impact to my life as far as I can tell.

    I am considering a LinkedIn account, but even that doesn’t seem essential.

  53. louiswi says:

    It seems the obvious is: facebook is not for friends but in fact for “losers”.

  54. tranchefoot says:

    Barry,

    Try deleting your facebook cookies. Just try. I can never fully do it. Try blocking them from being written using your browser’s tools/options. It never quite works for me. When I close and reopen my browser, some facebook cookies always reappear (two, usually). This happens even when I don’t visit the facebook site! The chrome extensions mentioned above unfortunately don’t prevent this.

    The only think I can conclude is that fb has placed an executable somewhere on my hard drive that rewrites cookies after they have been deleted. The only workaround I can think of is to visit facebook using a virtual machine that is well firewalled from its host.

  55. Greg0658 says:

    humm – many folks help build the infrastructure with their monthly subscriptions .. I hope it stays something they wish to continue in supporting / and not turned over to wall street trade’g platforms and street surveillance

    more onT – I like the multi OpSys* ideas most … makes me wonder tho – this whole topic – what’s there to hide ie: the cost of obscurity from gov, isp, www sites, connected big biz** / but – stock stops on buys & sells .. well – ok research in a new gadget to make million billion

    * different explorers / partitioned OpSys 2nd ID … obscure cookies in obscure places ? off machine in clouds
    ** further imo the more spread out your data – the less valuable it is

  56. number2son says:

    Julia is right. It’s just web sites adding Facebook as an option because they (erroneously) believe everyone has jumped on the Facebook train.

    ~~~

    BR: Then why do i see my name and facebook avatar?

  57. yoganmahew says:

    I know, instead of being tracked by Facebook, use Chrome and be tracked by Google instead, or Safari and be tracked by Apple.

    MSFT looks warm and cuddly some days.

  58. arbitrage789 says:

    Google plus seems like a much safer bet.

    I don’t think they’re as inclined to deceive people about the degree of privacy they can count on.

  59. Singmaster says:

    You’ve just convinced me to eliminate my FB acct. Only did it bec so many were egging me on. Last month, missed learning of the the death of dear friend for 2 days bec msg was sent to my fb acct. I don’t go there. Daughters, confused why they hadn’t heard from me (he was like a father to me and they like sisters), finally sent me a proper email.
    Fuck FB

  60. Singmaster says:

    You’ve just convinced me to eliminate my FB acct. Only did it bec so many were egging me on. Last month, missed learning of the the death of dear friend for 2 days bec msg was sent to my fb acct. I don’t go there. Daughters, confused why they hadn’t heard from me (he was like a father to me and they like sisters), finally sent me a proper email.
    Fuck FB Stupid

  61. PeterR says:

    BR, why did you join Facebook to begin with?

    You took the bait, perhaps without knowing the full costs?

    Hmmmm, due diligence?

    “When you lie down with dogs, don’t complain when you wake up with fleas?”

    The illusion of “friendship” — “relationship” — “closeness” — etc. which people seem to get from FB is just that, an illusion.

    One is left speechless by the cowering masses thinking they NEED Facebook. For someone of your intelligence, maturity, wisdom, and especially suspiciousness!, to have joined FB raises one’s hackles.

    Drop FB before you read this!

  62. Event_horizon says:

    I dropped FB 2 yrs ago and haven’t missed it. I have found that Emails work fine for keeping in touch with those that are close to me. I have discovered that many of my family & friends are coming to the same conclusion.

    It always seemed to me that much of the appeal of FB is for: a) people with low self-esteem who need a lot of constant support/affirmation from others, b) narcissists who need to show how awesome they are, or c) the creepy/stalker or the nosy types. It would be fascinating to see a personality study on frequent FB/Twitter users.

  63. yyz84 says:

    I deleted my Facebook account this summer.

    They are tracking you. It is how they make money. Yes they got my info, but I now have put a stop to that, no more info. I also have a plug-in on my browser that blocks all FaceBook connect/cookies/LSO whatever the fu** they try and put on my computer.

    The downside to blocking all of that is several websites now require Facebook login to comment, and if you block all of that stuff you can not even read comments.

    However I now view people who use Facebook as foolish, kind of like a lower class. I consider anyone who continues to use Facebook as a person who has not performed their due diligence and in fact does not respect privacy, so why would they respect mine, why should I trust someone who puts trust in a proven and admitted privacy abuser lie Facebook?

    I follow you on Twitter so I know you are friends with Paul Kedrosky and he commented a few weeks ago about Facebook, and he said he deleted his Facebook account a while ago as well.

  64. yoganmahew says:

    PS There’s always someone lookin’ at ya… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYQ_MBFmpi8 … sing it like it’s 1979…

  65. bear_in_mind says:

    FB made sense as an easy way to communicate with friends and associates without having to constantly curate e-mail list(s). It also doubled as a ‘free’ blog. Combined, they’re FB’s ‘killer app’. However, that ease-of-use has come at a very high price.

  66. bear_in_mind says:

    From USA Today via The Daily Beast:

    Facebook Tracks People Without Accounts

    Logged in or not, Facebook tracks you across the Web. The company went into detail about its procedure for tracking users, explaining that when someone visits a Facebook.com site—even if they don’t have an account—the company puts a cookie on their browser that records the date, time, and address of every site they visit that has a Facebook “like” button or plug-in. In addition to which websites you visit when, the cookie records unique characteristics of your computer, like your IP address and operating system. If you’re logged into your Facebook account, the company puts a second cookie on your computer that records your name, email address, friends, and other information. Facebook says it uses the data only to improve usability and security, and that the information is deleted after 90 days.

    Read it at USA Today
    November 18, 2011 1:13 PM

    SOURCE: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2011/11/18/facebook-tracks-people-without-accounts.html

  67. Whiskey Lunch says:

    …by the way,

    Isn’t FaceBroke’s only reason for existing… from a user’s point of view… to look up the names you could still remember from HS to see how fat they’ve gotten? …or am I using wrong.

  68. JerseyCynic says:

    IF YOU ARE NOT PAYING FOR THE SERVICE THEN YOU ARE THE PRODUCT THEY ARE SELLING

  69. subscriptionblocker says:

    Sorry Barry, you won’t like this either: The only way to clean a compromised system is to flatten and rebuild. Clean install.

    http://www.itworld.com/print/8939
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc512587.aspx

    Once upon a time not that very long ago, Microsoft CEO and chief cheerleader Steve Ballmer was attending a friend’s child’s wedding. One of the parents (I’m not sure if was the groom’s or bride’s) complained that his PC had slowed to a crawl and was performing miserably. Would Steve mind having a look?

    According to Allchin, Ballmer spent the better part of the next two days trying to rid this PC of worms, viruses, spyware, malware, severe fragmentation, and well, you name it. Picture it: the world’s 24th wealthiest person, a man worth $13.6 billion according to Forbes magazine, sitting at a table for two days, playing tech support. It was, Allchin says, a humbling experience.

    Allchin says Ballmer eventually gave up and instead lugged the machine back to Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash. campus. There, several engineers spent several days, burrowing deep into the system to figure out the problem. Imagine, CSI: Redmond.

    It turns out there were more than a hundred pieces of malware of various types. Things that these engineers using Microsoft’s own private tools could not ferret out and fix. Some of these threats hooked themselves deeply into the core operating system and essentially lied about their existence. Other malware scoured the hard drive for anything containing the string “virus,” and, in Allchin’s words, would “shoot them dead.” The result was disabling any installed antivirus software.

    It took a team of engineers to restore this system to health. And it was a real wake-up call.

    “This really opened our eyes to what goes on in the real world,” says Allchin.

    Cleaning a Compromised System

    So, you didn’t patch the system and it got hacked. What to do? Well, let’s see:

    You can’t clean a compromised system by patching it. Patching only removes the vulnerability. Upon getting into your system, the attacker probably ensured that there were several other ways to get back in.

    You can’t clean a compromised system by removing the back doors. You can never guarantee that you found all the back doors the attacker put in. The fact that you can’t find any more may only mean you don’t know where to look, or that the system is so compromised that what you are seeing is not actually what is there.

    You can’t clean a compromised system by using some “vulnerability remover.” Let’s say you had a system hit by Blaster. A number of vendors (including Microsoft) published vulnerability removers for Blaster. Can you trust a system that had Blaster after the tool is run? I wouldn’t. If the system was vulnerable to Blaster, it was also vulnerable to a number of other attacks. Can you guarantee that none of those have been run against it? I didn’t think so.

    You can’t clean a compromised system by using a virus scanner. To tell you the truth, a fully compromised system can’t be trusted. Even virus scanners must at some level rely on the system to not lie to them. If they ask whether a particular file is present, the attacker may simply have a tool in place that lies about it. Note that if you can guarantee that the only thing that compromised the system was a particular virus or worm and you know that this virus has no back doors associated with it, and the vulnerability used by the virus was not available remotely, then a virus scanner can be used to clean the system. For example, the vast majority of e-mail worms rely on a user opening an attachment. In this particular case, it is possible that the only infection on the system is the one that came from the attachment containing the worm. However, if the vulnerability used by the worm was available remotely without user action, then you can’t guarantee that the worm was the only thing that used that vulnerability. It is entirely possible that something else used the same vulnerability. In this case, you can’t just patch the system.

    You can’t clean a compromised system by reinstalling the operating system over the existing installation. Again, the attacker may very well have tools in place that tell the installer lies. If that happens, the installer may not actually remove the compromised files. In addition, the attacker may also have put back doors in non-operating system components.

    You can’t trust any data copied from a compromised system. Once an attacker gets into a system, all the data on it may be modified. In the best-case scenario, copying data off a compromised system and putting it on a clean system will give you potentially untrustworthy data. In the worst-case scenario, you may actually have copied a back door hidden in the data.

    You can’t trust the event logs on a compromised system. Upon gaining full access to a system, it is simple for an attacker to modify the event logs on that system to cover any tracks. If you rely on the event logs to tell you what has been done to your system, you may just be reading what the attacker wants you to read.

    You may not be able to trust your latest backup. How can you tell when the original attack took place? The event logs cannot be trusted to tell you. Without that knowledge, your latest backup is useless. It may be a backup that includes all the back doors currently on the system.

    The only way to clean a compromised system is to flatten and rebuild. That’s right. If you have a system that has been completely compromised, the only thing you can do is to flatten the system (reformat the system disk) and rebuild it from scratch (reinstall Windows and your applications). Alternatively, you could of course work on your resume instead, but I don’t want to see you doing that.

  70. Matt T says:

    Facebook is Stalking You

    Facebook has been behaving badly, as you have noticed. Top technologist
    Dave Winer closed his account:

    http://scripting.com/stories/2011/11/10/iDeletedMyFacebookAccount.html

    Matt

  71. subscriptionblocker says:

    Here is a facebook proof browser:

    http://www.spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm

    But only if you install to a USB stick with a read only switch:

    https://www.kanguru.com/index.php/flash-drives/basic-flash/kanguru-flashblu-ii

    Or just boot from a properly closed LPS LiveCd ……

  72. walter says:

    Dear Sir,

    I follow your blog through google reader also I followed this blog: Lifehacker and they had an interested article about your problem a few months ago here is the link:

    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/09/facebook-is-tracking-your-every-move-on-the-web-heres-how-to-stop-it/

    Many thank,
    Walter.

  73. schmoupy says:

    put these 2 lines in the hosts file ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosts_(file) ):
    192.168.0.155 facebook.com
    192.168.0.155 http://www.facebook.com

    it redirects facebook to a LAN address (preferably not used)

  74. schmoupy says:

    hmmm the server added http:// on the second line (www.faceb…), you’d have to ignore it

  75. Dave Winer says:

    I deleted my Facebook account

    Last night I deleted my Facebook account.

    A picture named silo.gifAccording to Facebook’s rules, they will wait two weeks before actually deleting it. This seems reasonable. I’ve been on the other side of this, and it saves them the grief of having to deal with people who impulsively delete their accounts and then decide they want them back. Two weeks is enough time to decide if you really mean it.

    Already people are wondering how long this will last, as if being part of Facebook is a permanent thing, like having a driver’s license or passport.

    For me it was not an impulsive decision. I hadn’t logged on to Facebook since we discovered that you couldn’t log out, starting with this post on September 24. But I had never been a big Facebook user. I think this is partially because I’m an early adopter and Facebook was developed for college-age people, and I’m not part of that group.

    Twitter is a different story. I was a very early adopter, and it’s part of my online flow. But I would like to quit Twitter. But doing it requires a lot more unraveling than with Facebook.

    I just emptied out the mailbox that accumulates all the Facebook emails. It’s true, there are people who seem to depend on Facebook to reach me. Well, I’ve missed there messages for over a month. We’ll all survive this.

    Bottom-line: I know from experience that it’s bad to depend on a for-profit company to give me a free service that is supposed to not feel like it’s free. Facebook makes it difficult or impossible to maintain an archive copy of the stuff you post there, so, knowing this, I never posted anything there that wasn’t a copy of something I posted elsewhere or something I just didn’t care about. And I hate the idea that they devise ever-more-sneaky ways of tracking you on the web. And I’m not one of the people who uses the word “hate” when I mean “mildly dislike.”

  76. Frwip says:

    @BR

    Julia is right. It’s just web sites adding Facebook as an option because they (erroneously) believe everyone has jumped on the Facebook train.

    ~~~

    BR: Then why do i see my name and facebook avatar?

    Because those sites connect to Facebook for you.

  77. bobmitchell says:

    BR: That is a setting on Google — you can turn on and off

    Yes and No. The “default” setting for google is for it to be on. You have to set up an account and then log on and carry around the google “do not follow me” cookie, for google NOT to follow you. It kind of defeats the purpose.

    I am not a member of FB. FB sent me an “invitation” a few months ago. The invite included people I “might” want to be friends with. One of the “suggestions” was a person I had emailed about an apartment, once, two years ago.

  78. I’m pretty sure they facebook somehow retrieves your contacts info from your phone to ‘link’ with friends! I could not believe it and I don’t know how it works.

  79. JerseyCynic says:

    OK — here’s a fine example of the facebook farce. I joined it a year or so ago to participate in a local community “event”. It was pretty creepy. The friend requests came in daily. The “you may know” emails from FB also came in daily. I never set anything up. A few more “reminders” from FB came in over the course of the year, then stopped.

    Then I came across a website one day last month whilst browsing and clicked on the story. ***addictinginfo.org/2011/11/13/facebook-opens-doors-to-a-new-way-of-suppressing-information-activists-constantly-banned/***

    When I saw my name and facebook avatar I couldn’t help but make a comment. Couldn’t believe how easy it was.
    I just recently had to take down that comment because the “likes” and response comments were out of control. It was also quite obvious at the amount of trolling on this post.

    It appears to me that this site is up to no good. After reading today’s top story, it is crystal clear that facebook does whatever the hell “they” want to do with THEIR accounts.

    ***addictinginfo.org/2011/12/18/ron-paul-supporter-openly-calls-for-assassination-of-president-obama-on-facebook-page-image/***

    since I will no longer comment on ANY site that automatically brings up my FB, I was glad to see that a commenter said pretty much what I would have…”where does it say anything about this fool being a ron paul supporter? you guys just made that up. you know, I’ve been a daily visitor to this site for quite some time now. I think I’ll have to find my “info” someplace else from now on. this is just as bad as fox news. what a fuckin’ joke.”

    I should just make a comment like mark zukerberg is the antichrist or something stupid like that, and then check the traffic to our blog — but I won’t, because I already know what I would find.

    The whole world (wide web) IS a stage — and you get what you pay for!

  80. cdub says:

    Barry, here is a browser extension that does what you want:

    http://priv3.icsi.berkeley.edu/

    BTW, for a humorous take on this, you MUST see this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJ380SHZvYU

  81. Mike in Nola says:

    this thread shows how little many understand about the host of companies making money tracking them on the web, i.g. FB, Google, doublecick and many others.

    Firefox by default and chrome don’t have any sure fire way of blocking tracking sites. You have to ask them not to track you and depend on those who make money tracking to do the right thing. Yeah, right.

    Firefox with adblocker plus and and IE9 with tracking protection enabled (described above) are the only mainstream browsers I know of that give YOU the control of blocking these leeches. Too bad this is not enabled by default, but I’m sure MSFT was thinking of the anti-trust implications of essentially killing google’s business model, and maybe the effect on it’s investment in FB.

  82. Bob A says:

    facebook is a disease. hopefully it will be eradicated in our lifetimes.

  83. louiswi says:

    Here’s a slogan that is catching on like wildfire around these parts:

    FACEBOOK IS FOR LOSERS!

    I didn’t make it up, I just see it a lot in emails.

    Don’t know what to make of it but do know that HR departments around here regularly check facebook for prosepective job interviewees to see what kind of person they might want or want to avoid.

  84. Sayitisntso says:

    BR: There is lots of decent advice here but it all misses the point. You seriously need some proper IT. Your web exposure makes you a sitting duck. Software and settings mentioned in these comments only address the tip of the iceberg (and only works until it doesn’t). Do you have a firewall (minimum: SonicWall with subscription, professionally set up) at home? You have a good firewall properly configured at work, right?

    My point is that, if this F stuff is getting through, then you have deeper problems. You are on thin ice my friend. Please find someone who is really good at dealing with computer security. You cannot afford not to. A good setup does not have to be terribly expensive. I may be good, but not good enough; you need the best. You have much better resources than I to find the best. When you do, help us all out and tell us about it! Thanks.

    For everybody else: It is too late in our world to completely stop the information gathering. An old Intelligence trick is to confuse that information with lots of disinformation.

  85. diogeron says:

    Yes, this is indeed annoying to no end and one more reason why I have refused to join the “Facebook revolution.”

  86. rlasker3 says:

    Just try clearing your cookies.

    Then go to Facebook: select “Privacy Settings” from the drop down near your account name –> select “Edit Settings” under “Apps and Websites” –> select “Edit Settings” under “Instant Personalization” –> uncheck the box “Enable instant personalization on partner websites”

    Also, when done click the Back” button and then select “Edit Settings” under “How people bring your info to apps they use” … uncheck everything.

    Facebook is info leaky by default but they have gotten better at giving you the ability to button it up.

    TBH, the technology used to access your facebook message is fairly secure just so long as you do not give a site access to too much information in your settings.

    ~~~

    BR: No luck — I never turned “Instant Personalizations” on.

    When i went to it in settings, it was unchecked. So its not THAT.

  87. rlasker3 says:

    Here is more information on social plugins:

    http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=209089222464503

  88. af says:

    Not just Facebook, but Google, Twitter, Yahoo! and many more following you around the web.

    I use disconnect.me (Chrome Extension to block this). But this doesn’t block them all.

    Interestingly, disconnect.me reported blocking 10 attempts on this very page of access to Google. Google could have used that information to tie me to accessing this page.

    Also, this page is making requests to gravatar, crowdscience, quantserve, sitemeter, feedburner, doubleclick – each of those requests passes a cookie. At some point that cookie may get associated to my identity. Then the loop is completed – and any page that I access that used or uses one of those sites is associated to me.

  89. [...] week, I asked how I could stop Facebook from tracking my web activities even when I was off of Facebook. Lots of you gave me great suggestions — [...]