Face­book sees ev­ery­thing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

Face­book has said that it is within its terms of ser­vice to see what users are typ­ing even when the sta­tus or com­ment is never posted on the so­cial net­work.

The Menlo Park, cal­i­for­nia, com­pany con­firmed that it can track users’ un­pub­lished posts af­ter two Face­book re­searchers dis­closed that they had tracked the ac­tiv­ity of about five mil­lion ran­dom Face­book users in the United States and bri­tain.

The re­searchers’ study looked at how of­ten these users cen­sored them­selves while typ­ing posts and com­ments on Face­book. If users typed more than five char­ac­ters, the con­tent was tracked. It was con­sid­ered to be self­cen­sored if it was not pub­lished within 10 min­utes of be­ing typed.

Face­book said the study did not track the ex­act words and let­ters that users typed, but whether or not they typed some­thing. The method­ol­ogy for the study also kept the tracked users anony­mous, Face­book said.

“This is some­thing we looked at to un­der­stand to what ex­tent peo­ple self cen­sor,” Face-book spokesman Matt Ste­in­feld told The Times.

Face­book said it was no longer track­ing any users when it comes to un­pub­lished posts. It also has no plans to track the un­pub­lished words and let­ters that users type.

but Face­book said the study was con­ducted in ac­cor­dance to the terms of ser­vice that ev­ery user agrees to when they sign up for the so­cial net­work.

So where in Face­book’s terms of ser­vice is this jus­ti­fied? The com­pany said this is cov­ered in its Data Use Pol­icy.

“We re­ceive data about you when­ever you use or are run­ning Face­book, such as when you look at another per­son’s time­line, send or re­ceive a mes­sage, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or oth­er­wise in­ter­act with things ...,” the Data Use Pol­icy says in the sec­tion ti­tled “In­for­ma­tion we re­ceive and how it is used.”

con­cerned users can do two things to pro­tect them­selves. They can stop us­ing the ser­vice, or they can browse the web­site us­ing a browser with Javascript turned off.

Javascript is the browser soft­ware that al­lowed the Face­book re­searchers to track whether users typed some­thing or not dur­ing the study this sum­mer. It’s the same kind of soft­ware that al­lows Gmail to save users’ email drafts.

Users can search for in­struc­tions for how to turn off Javascript for their browser, which would pre­vent Face­book from be­ing able to track whether a user has a typed a post or com­ment, should the com­pany de­cide to do that again.

but Javascript is an im­por­tant part of many web­sites, so users who do turn it off should not be sur­prised if some of their fa­vorite sites don’t func­tion prop­erly. — Mcclatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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