Feds: Facebook Mines User Data Even After They Log Off

The chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives are concerned that Facebook's plugins mine customer data even after people log off the site.

The chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives issued a letter to the Federal Trade Commission this week, over concerns that Facebook is mining customer data even after users log out of their profile.

The letter from Representatives Joe Barton of Texas and Ed Markey of Massachusetts isn’t the first from the duo in regards to privacy concerns and Facebook.

The story starts with tech blogger Nik Cubrilovic in Australia, who discovered this week that Facebook was still gathering data from users even after they logged out of the social network, whenever they visited web pages that feature a Facebook like button.

“Facebook was able to obtain this information when users visited websites that connect with Facebook, including websites with like buttons,” the letter said. “There are an estimated 905,000 sites that contain the like button.”

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told CNET that the company did not store or use any information it should not have:

There was no security or privacy breach. Facebook did not store “or use any information it should not have.

CNET reports that after the blogger made Facebook aware of the problem, the company fixed the issue with three cookies, so that unique user data would not be included when users logged out.

In a story in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, however, a Facebook source said that the cookies will remain on the computers of logged out users for now, because the changes will ‘take a while’ to fix. But the lawmakers, in their letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, said that they were concerned with how quickly Facebook plans to address the issue.

In their latest letter, Barton and Markey stated that they “remain concerned about the privacy implications for Facebook’s 800 million subscribers.”

As co-chairs of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we believe that tracking user behavior without their consent or knowledge raises serious privacy concerns,” the lawmakers wrote.

“When users log out of Facebook, they are under the expectation that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities. We believe this impression should be the reality. Facebook users should not be tracked without their permission.

What do you think of the lawmakers’ letter to the FTC regarding Facebook and privacy?

Publish date: September 30, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/facebook-mines/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT