by Julia Angwin
June 17, 2014
Julia Angwin is a senior
reporter at ProPublica. From 2000 to 2013, she was a reporter at
The Wall Street Journal, where she led a privacy investigative
team that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory
Reporting in 2011 and won a Gerald Loeb Award in 2010.
The Facebook sign seen at the
of Facebook's headquarters in
Facebook's Extreme Online
Facebook is launching an aggressive
to track people across the Web.
A history of how the social network
monitors your online activity,
even though it denies
using the info for commercial purposes.
For years people have noticed a funny thing
about Facebook's ubiquitous 'Like button'.
It has been sending data to Facebook tracking the sites you visit. Each time details of the tracking
were revealed, Facebook promised that it wasn't using the data for any
No longer. Last week, Facebook announced it will
start using its Like button and similar tools to
track people across the Internet for advertising purposes.
Here is the long history of the revelations and
Mark Zuckerberg introduces the "transformative" Like button
April 21, 2010
Facebook introduces the "Like"
button in 2010 at its F8 developer conference. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
declares that it will be,
"the most transformative thing we've ever done
for the Web."
He says his goal is to encourage a Web where all
products and services use people's real identity.
He suggests, in fact, that
creating a personally identifiable web experience could be divine:
go to heaven, all of your friends are all there and everything is just the
way you want it to be," he says. "Together, lets build a world that is that
Mark Zuckerberg announces the
at the annual f8 Conference on Apr. 21, 2010.
Nov. 30, 2010
Dutch researcher Arnold Roosendaal publishes
paper showing that Facebook Like buttons transmit data about users even
when the user doesn't click on the button.
later says that Roosendaal found a "bug."
users don't click on it
May 18, 2011
The Wall Street Journal reports
that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets
collect data about users even when they don't click them.
chief technology officer says,
"we don't use them for tracking and they're
not intended for tracking."
pioneer says log of out Facebook
Sept. 24, 2011
Veteran tech blogger Dave Winer
writes that "Facebook is scaring me" with its apps like the social reader, which can
automatically share stories you read.
"This kind of behavior deserves a bad
name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking," he writes.
recommends that users log out of Facebook to prevent being tracked on other
out doesn't work
Sept. 25, 2011
Australian blogger Nik
Cubrilovic writes that,
"Logging Out of Facebook is Not Enough."
He shows that Facebook is
tracking users even when they log out of the site. Facebook responds that it
fixing the issue so people won't be tracked when they are logged out of
not to worry...
Sept. 27, 2011
tells the New York Times that it doesn't use data from Like buttons and
other widgets to track users or target advertising to them, and that it
deletes or anonymizes the data within 90 days.
Facebook has patented the technique
Oct. 1, 2011
Blogger Michael Arrington digs up
Facebook patent application for,
for tracking information
about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another
The title of his blog post: "Brutal
Dec. 7, 2012
As the Wall Street Journal finds
that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets appear on two-thirds of 900
the company says again it only uses data from unclicked Like buttons for
security purposes and to fix bugs in its software.
June 12, 2014
Facebook tells Ad Age that it
start tracking users across the Internet using its widgets such as the
Like button. It's a bold move.
Pinterest, which track people with their Tweet and PinIt buttons, offer
users the ability to opt out. And
Google has pledged it
will not combine data from its ad-tracking network DoubleClick with
personally identifiable data without user's opt-in consent.
not offer an opt-out in its privacy settings.
Instead Facebook asks members to visit an
ad industry page, where they
can opt out from targeted advertising from Facebook and other companies. The
company also says it will let people
view and adjust the types of ads they see.
We contacted Facebook to ask them about their
tracking habits. They didn't respond...
Read our recent story about
how online tracking is getting creepier, and a piece from our archives
rounding up the
best reporting on Facebook and your privacy.