How Facebook spy after you even when you are not on Facebook

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Mark Zukerberg was under the spotlight for the recent “spying” allegations and privacy breaches by Facebook apps. I was actually surprised that people didn’t know how far goes the online data collection, and how dramatic is what the tycons know about us. In fact, Facebook and Google collect data on us even when we are not on their sites. Facebook are just beginners in this scheme, but they are doing very well so far.

So you may think that I’m crazy… how come a website like Facebook can spy after you even when you are outside of their site? And I’m not suggesting anything in regard to the Facebook App (which yes, it is collecting even more data on you), but simply on what is happening when you browse the internet.

The clue is in the technology which Facebook call – “Facebook Pixel“: Facebook encourage advertisers to introduce a small piece of code hidden on their website, so Facebook would be able to give the advertiser more details about the users which they target in their adverts. At a first look, it may sounds like a paradox: why would a website owner need Facebook, to tell them, on what users doing on their own site? I mean, lets take my blog as an example, yes this blog which you are reading now: in theory, I don’t need Facebook to tell me anything about what you are doing on my site, because I basically already know that: it is my site! I know what are you reading, for how long, from which country you are, your IP, and if you registered – I also know who you are. So what exactly Facebook are offering?! Well.. apparently they are offering you to get information on what users are doing on other sites, and at the same time, they give other website owners information about what  users are doing on your site. Obviously, Facebook are not exposing all the data on those users, but just aggregated and statistical data, and they also don’t expose the users details – but it means that Facebook themselves have got all the information about each one of those users: they collect the data from all the pixels, and match it with the Facebook session cookie, so they would know who the user is. And then they cross-match it with information that they already have: your name, your date of birth, your photo, your friends…. so now they know also what you buy, what are you interested in, where you visit, which apps you are using, and if you use the Facebook App – your exact location, your conversations with others, and lots of other information. This is a data bomb: matching such information with what you do on *others* sites – is a very powerful tool. And this data with Artificial Intelligence algorithm is not just a bomb – but an atomic bomb: a smart algorithm can track your mouse movements, keyboard, time you spend on each site and basically analyze our personality according to all that information. it can know not only what you do, but also what you like, and also what you would like. It is very useful for marketing, but also It raises questions about privacy, and the excess power that monopolies like Facebook has got.

 

If you think that Facebook are aggressive, now think of Google: they basically know all what you do on almost all sites (unlike Facebook which have information from advertisers only). You can try to guess….: Google are obviously not using the Facebook Pixel, but something different. Google has got even more powerful tools than you can imagine, and I don’t refer to the Google Search. I will write about it in my next blog, when I will explain something about the power of Javascript.

All the best 🙂

Eran

 

 


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