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Published on Sep 26, 2011
Facebook tracks you even after logging out. An Australian technologist has caused a global stir after discovering Facebook tracks the websites its users visit even when they are logged out of the social networking site. Separately, Facebook's new Timeline feature, launched last week, has been inadvertently accessed by users early, revealing a feature that allows people to see who removed them from their friends' lists. Facebook's changes - which turn profiles into a chronological scrapbook of the user's life - are designed to let its 800 million members share what they are reading, listening to or watching in real time. But they have been met with alarm by some who fear over-sharing.
Of course, Facebook's bottom line improves the more users decide to share. Reports suggest that Facebook staff refer internally to "Zuck's law", which describes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's belief that every year people share twice as much online - a trend that has caused Facebook's valuation to skyrocket towards $US100 billion. "Facebook is a lot more than a social network and ultimately wants to be the premier platform on which people experience, organise and share digital entertainment," said Ovum analyst Eden Zoller. But in alarming new revelations, Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic conducted tests, which revealed that when you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you. Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook, Cubrilovic says. "Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit," Cubrilovic wrote in a blog post. "The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions."