back to article Facebook tests sinister CURSOR-TRACKING in hunt for more ad bucks

Facebook is reportedly looking at new methods of data mining that would silently track a user's actions on the free content ad network. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Mark Zuckerberg-run company is experimenting with technology that would monitor cursor movements on the site to track how individual users respond to …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Black Helicopters

Presumably they have an AdBlock Plus tracker, too? I'm not on FB but the wife is, and she says she never sees any adverts.

9
1
Anonymous Coward

I hope not, then again, I'm also hoping they don't roll out this cursor tracking biz. I'm sure there's some data protection law against this. Wouldn't that come under the same catagory as a keylogger?

5
0

I clearly don't work in the ad-peddling industry for a reason, but in my wildest imagination I can't see the benefit of this. Maybe it's because I'm a trackball user, but I regularly move the cursor around the screen without any relation to my next action; what are they going to learn from that?

Assuming ads work (which is something else I don't understand), people either click on them or not... which is surely all the mouse tracking you need?

6
0

AdBlocker Plus

AdBlock trackers are already a reality I'm sorry to say. If you go to ITV Player and run an adblocker on IE or Chrome, the player detects it and promptly pops up a nag screen telling you how bad a person you are. Said Nag screen sits in front of you for about the same amount of time it would've taken to watch the adverts before proceeding with playing your content.

very annoying indeed.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: AdBlocker Plus

Considering the ITV player insists on shoving ads into my face as often as if I were watching live TV, but without the option to pause and fast forward, I tend to choose alternative streaming websites. Their loss.

10
0
Silver badge

Re: AdBlocker Plus

A few years ago, when I couldn't find a decent ad-blocker for Chrome on Linux, I installed Privoxy, an ad-blocking proxy server. I haven't updated the block list for a good while, but it still seems to keep out most of the junk.

As it's a proxy server, rather than a browser add-on, it works transparently for all browsers. Also, it returns a dummy response for all requests, which I imagine makes it much harder for anti-ad-blocking software to detect the block.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Why not just stick wires up everyone's a*se and plug them into a USB port so Facebook can scan the s*it that comes out of them.

Sleep walk into this at your peril, but I think maybe one day they will overstep the mark.

1
0

@zog

No need for an ad blocker. Get a surface. Browse FB using the browser in Metro (touch only), and serious web sites using desktop IE (mouse).

Top them apples!

1
0
Silver badge
Coat

Finally

We'll get some good performance analytics so folks can really up their game in the various Mafia Vampire Farm games!

Seriously though, will they also be doing dexter cursor-tracking? It seems a bit one sided if they don't.

4
1
Joke

Re: Finally

"Mafia Vampire Farm"

I would play that game!

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Clearly I am out of touch ..

When did browsers allow access to the absolute cursor position ?

0
0

Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

onMouseOver event also helps.

2
0

Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

It is more likely relative cursor positition within the browser window, and you can get at it with Javascript.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

Ever since browsers have supported JS, so a very long time. While the cursor is over the page of the site that has the JS on it, it can always find the x,y position of the cursor. People have also been tracking this way for a long time too, its just that when its facebook, it gets more publicity!

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

Clearly too young to remember web pages with JS mouse trails .

3
0
Silver badge
Flame

@ Gulraj Rijhwani Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

Cue the hosannahs for both No-Script and Ghostery!

1
0

Re: Clearly I am out of touch ..

About 10 years ago.

I worked for a firm that sold the technology for ecommerce sites.

The idea was to follow the user on the screen as well as how they moved through a web site.

The info is useful in figuring where users are running into problems on a site and tracking entry and exit points through site pages.

Generated a visual representation of page and site activity.

Info was anonymous but generated a great deal of data.

Not a problem with today's databases and data warehouses.

0
0
Silver badge
Trollface

So what

I am not a Product. At least, not to Facebook.

2
0

Re: So what

The only way you are not Facebook's product is if you are not a Facebook member.

5
0
Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Re: So what

The only way you are not Facebook's product is if you are not a Facebook member, and no-one you know is either.

FTFY.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: So what

I searched on FB for my name and came up with a load of other people. So I guess I'm in the clear for a while.

Everyone I know that matters knows that I think BF and TW are just variations of the Bubonic Plague and need to be avoided at all costs. Many are now former FB & TW users.

You can live a full and productive life without either of them. As for Zuck's intention of getting everyone in the world on FB, well he can go *uck himself. How many NSA backdoors are there in FB? Get everuone on board and the spooks have a ready insight into what everyone is doing . Do we really want that? No sirrreeee.

2
0
Black Helicopters

So naive

Unless you run Ghostery or similar in order to block all FB trackers, then you do not even need an account to be a FB product.

Even so, chances are they have your name and phone number because you probably know people who have an account, and at least one of them will have sync'ed their phone contacts to FB...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: So naive

Me naive? Far from it. Every FB domain and IP is blocked on all my systems and in my router. By the way that means (At the last count) more than 200 IP's. They keep adding new ones. Google Ad services are also persona non grata.

FB do not know my name and certainly not my phone number. If you search for me on the internet you get nothing. Sure there are plenty of people with the same name as me but there are no links that will take you to me. At all the sites I comment on I use aliases and very different ones at that.

Any cold callers get told to S**k their you know whats.

So, go on find me. I'll give 100quid to Children in need if you can come up with my phone number.

1
0
Meh

Re: So what

Not necessarily. If you have friends or family that are members, your contact information may wind up with Facebook. Also, many websites link to Facebook and they collect information on visits; members on not. I am a former member and have edited my host file to filter out as much of their garbage as possible.

1
0

Re: So naive

@AC: I realise this appeared below your comment, but this was really in reply to the comments above yours.

I am actually surprised so many people on el Reg seem unaware the likes of FB, TW, disqus track users from site to site, whether they have an account or not.

0
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: So what

"You can live a full and productive life without either of them." - you sure can (and I do), but it's certainly getting incredibly hard: I just wish I had a dollar for every time something I actually was interested in following shrugged me off with "well we have updates on FB and TW - what else do you want? What, 'RSS'? Wozzat...?"

0
0
Silver badge

Re: So naive

"I am actually surprised so many people on el Reg seem unaware the likes of FB, TW, disqus track users from site to site, whether they have an account or not." - I'm just curious: would that be via the third-party cookies I never used allow, or via the embedded "social" / "sharing" buttons even the latest Adblock Plus offers to remove (thank heavens!)...?

0
0

I can't remember the last time I saw an advert of FB. Doesn't ABP defeat all their advertising efforts?

4
2
Anonymous Coward

Not entirely..

I can't remember the last time I saw an advert of FB. Doesn't ABP defeat all their advertising efforts?

Not if you are using Chrome... If you are using Google Chrome with ADP the adverts do get loaded they are just hidden from the view, so you don't see them, but the browser has loaded them... Contrast that to say Firefox + ADP where it doesn't even call the adserver once a URL has been blocked with a *....

Personally there's no better approach than editing the hosts file for me...

5
0

Re: Not entirely..

I'm a big believer in the hosts file. But it doesn't catch everything. It catches alot though. I filter out over 216,000 sites with it and I still have to watch what comes in. Personally, I'm surprised this doesn't get more attention than it does.

0
0
Silver badge

Next Step

The next step will have FaceBook moving the mouse for you ... and clicking the ads.

6
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Is the idea that user look at where the mouse is?

Because I feel rather sure the exact opposite is true. That little mouse-cursor is the bane of my reading/watching/lol'ing/liking experience! It is retired to some remote corner of the screen until I have need of its services again.

Also I would somehow expect this to backfire - even if it's somehow a good way of figuring out where users are looking. Oh look 98% of users never even look at the ads, and it seems all our ad-clicks are performed when a user has some sort of seizure.

7
0
Silver badge

Absolutely

The only thing a mouse gets to do while I'm reading a web page is scroll, and that from as far out of the way I can manage. If I want to click on something then it gets to move, but they track what you click on anyway.

2
0
Gold badge

I think my mouse tends to sit somewhere to the vague right-hand side of the screen. So it would pretty much always be hovering over Facebook adverts. Or at least it would if I logged on more than once every 6 weeks...

I use the mouse wheel to scroll, so the only time the mouse moves, is when I'm moving it to click on something. At which point I click on it, unless interrupted.

Maybe Facebook are hoping that this is the case for most people. A large majority being right-handed. In which case they can blame the advertisers. They can say, our users were hovering over your ads, ready and waiting to click, but your ads were so shit - they just didn't bother. We're doing our job, sack your ad agencies...

3
0
Silver badge
Go

@Sparticus

Actually, I suspect you are right for more of the surfing populace than you realize. And this, then, might just be the beginning of the end for Zuckerbitch. Consider the following: Many, many surfers simply dump the cursor off to the right, which ends up parking the cursor over some random, nondescript ad. As the user scrolls through the page, the cursor hovers over other nondescript ads. This continues for some period of time, and the admen whose ads are randomly hovered over spend money sending out "targeted" ads, which are of course ignored. At some point, the admen realize that their ROI is not what was expected from Zuckerbitch's new hifalutin' tracking technology (for which they paid big bucks to subscribe to). Lawsuits follow, and (with any kind of luck), the admen avoid FacePalm like the plague that it is.

The rest is, as they say, left as an exercise for the reader....

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: @Sparticus

Exactly!

Phew! I was beginning to think I was unusual in that when looking at the screen, I 'track' with my eyes, not my mouse!

And as you point out, even scrolling is generally done with the mouse-wheel.!

0
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

How long people spend hovering over ads... about 0.2 seconds to hit the "close" button...

Do people actually look at the ads except to close them (and answer that it offends them or find them un-interesting in the popup questionnaire?)?

Second, having ads is great, but the only ads I ever notice is that they are all for dating sites and never anything else... it get's old very fast...

4
0
Silver badge

Ads on Facebook?

Not seen any.

Well, not true - there are posts about sunglasses and trainers and training and stuff.

Oh, and this morning a request from a nice lady in Switzerland asking me to be her friend and (though I didn't translate the French) something about money and a percentage for looking after it.

Oddly enough, it appeared that several gentlemen of a certain age had befriended the lady, sad - so sad.

1
1

Waste of time

Does this not just sound like a waste of time? With touch screens, the cursor is just surely where it was last clicked and in a web browser, do people really move the cursor to where they're looking? It seems irrelevant on newer touch devices and destined to provide meaningless data on older ones... Why bother?

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Sorry to be so blunt...

But what type of assh0le clicks on a FB ad? The same type of muppet that orders viagra via spam links perhaps? WTF? I can understand how FB makes huge money displaying ads to one side for its real customers. I can see how that model works. Its like TV advertising. But who clicks on these ads and why? I don't know a single person who does. But clearly some users are happily clicking away if we are to believe FB. That is, assuming these are trustworthy figures, and not just made-up fodder to seduce FB's real customers.....

3
1
Gold badge

Re: Sorry to be so blunt...

I've clicked on a lot more ads since getting an iPad. Come to think of it, I've clicked a good few since getting a phone with a browser as well. Small screen + touch controls + large fingers = ooopsie.

Particularly when El Reg run those ones that fill the whole background of the page, so you go to scroll downwards, leave finger on too long, and get a press instead of a swipe. I hope I've made a small contribution to the El Reg hacks' beer-fund...

I'm not normally an online ad clicker. I can only remember clicking on one deliberately in the last few years. Which was a Microsoft Office 360 one on here, as I was planning to look up the prices that day anyway - and it popped up at just the correct time. I have deliberately looked at the Facebook ads, and been shocked by the low quality, from such a well-known site. At least half the ads on there seem to be scams (of various sorts) - and if I were a legitimate advertiser, I wouldn't want to use Facebook because of the association. The chances of your ad turning up next to one of those 'work from home for an hour a day and earn $1,000', or 'get free iPhone' types are extremely high. Not to mention all the 'diet secrets', body-building 'honest it ain't drugs but a supplement' ones, and the Thai/Russian brides.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Sorry to be so blunt...

@I ain't Spartacus

Your predicament highlights the need for a stylus pen for use on all pads and phones, then there would not be the problem with fat fingers (or even grease/sweat marks on the screen).

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: Sorry to be so blunt...

try http://m.theregister.co.uk/

0
0

Is this not only going to show if people hover over ads or scroll past? Which is going to prove what? That they ‘nearly’ clicked on it? I don’t hover over things when thinking about clicking them, so yet I might consider it more than someone who just happened to move the mouse over the add?

I really don’t understand why they would want to do this for advertising; it seems a complete waste, unless Facebook are going to charge more for ads because they have this function regardless of if it produces any quantifiable results…

0
0

Meh

Oh, you mean like many other sites are already doing, using solutions like Crazy Egg? Not exactly a conspiracy...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

I thought there was some way IE would track your mouse movement even when the browser was minimised.

Can't remember where the test page was but not nice.

There really will come a point where FB is (actually widely recognised) NSFW.

To those who say they are not a product, or member of, facebook, respectufully unless you use a live boot distro on a constantly changing IP address with your phone battery removed, have no friends with your email, avoid all cameras or never come above ground you are still part of the database, just not a self identifying entity.

You will be on there and I predict in about six months we'll be having the conversation around "didn't realise they used X to profile us! andX will be something like cursor dwell times combined with keyboard audio, CPU temp, WIFI signal attenuation, transient back emf from LCD transisors to use the screen as a camera, keyboard doppler shift for spacial location, fan noise reflection for same. Webcam visual covers will be found to be transparent at the trick uv/ themal region the sensor has. HD audio chips will use the audio wires to read back the RF picked up in the location and extract data in a way defined by the software alone using raw voltage data. One day someone will notice some basic chipset for a simple NFC covers an amazing amount of extra capabilites at harmonics of the base design.

Google and FB want images of us to feed into the face recognition software scouring the worlds images, they will have a visual fingerprint for you already, and a timeline, they may even have a drone or specially spicy take-away with your name on.

We are chosing the Blue Pill.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Failing to turn up a link but I'm sure a leading UK supermarket and the leading UK telco do this already on their webpage.

0
0
Silver badge

I guess the idea is to detect when a user has "almost clicked" an ad? Or something.

0
0
Silver badge
Joke

Note to self

IF I ever log on to facebook, remember to make rapid random cursor movements to confuse system

Better yet: do not log on to facebook (resisted so far, not tempted yet)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Note to self

Keep up the good work. Don't weaken and get consumed by the Borg.

yours

Anon, head of the Anti-FB movement,

Death to FB!

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums