back to article Facebook admits it does track non-users, for their own good

Facebook's apology-and-explanation machine grinds on, with The Social Network™ posting detail on one of its most controversial activities – how it tracks people who don't use Facebook. The company explained that the post is a partial response to questions CEO Mark Zuckerberg was unable to answer during his senate and …

Re: to say it with that nice song from the South Park movie

To see Zuck as a reincarnation of Caligula is an insult to the Emperor.May be he is rather a reincarnation of Cesare Borgia.

A new Caligula will have his slaves dig at sites clearly marked as Nuclear waste burial site. No do dig here!.

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Re: to say it with that nice song from the South Park movie

"Zucker Fucker's gonna be forgotten in 20 years"

I sure hope so, because if he does something that will make everyone remember him in 20 years, it's very likely that it will be something that has caused lasting damage.

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As a never-signed up non-member of the FB empire, how do I find out what they know about me without them finding out even more?

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Anonymous Coward

Freedom of information?

I very much doubt that a freedom of information request to the UK branch would get an honest response. Perhaps more effective to contact as many internal employees as possible via LinkedIn asking if they are prepared to become a whistleblower. Social engineering your way in makes the challenge somehow more rewarding.

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Devil

RE: As a never-signed up non member....

I'm having this battle at the moment, trying to get Facebook to divulge what information they know about me even though I'm not a member. I know that some of my real "friends" have tagged me in pictures, mentioned me in events and discussed me in comments.

Now because I don't have an account, I can't manage or "untag" this stuff, even though it's information about me that's in the (semi) public domain, even before you start to look at advertising data or whatever.

I've had two responses from Facebook in relation to the case I've opened with them. So far, and I'm not sure whether it's via just plain obscurity or stupidity (I suspect a bit of both), they don't seem to comprehend that:

- I can't manage an "account", so can't do anything about the data they hold.

- That if I had an account and it was deleted, everything was removed. (And I know it wasn't).

My last reply to their support-people mentioned the "right to be forgotten" in every way, shape or form. Funnily enough, it's been nearly a week since I've had another response.

I imagine this will involve a lot of banging my head against a wall at least until GDPR kicks off, but I'm going to keep badgering them out of principle.

Icon = Mr Zuck.

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Coat

Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

>> My last reply to their support-people mentioned the "right to be forgotten" in every way, shape or form. Funnily enough, it's been nearly a week since I've had another response.

That's because they've forgotten your email!

Is that my coat? I can't remember --->

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Re: Freedom of information?

Why would someone who feels strongly enough to not use Facebook, not even to have dormant account they studiously ignore have a LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn are even more annoyingly insidious at this point.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

"I imagine this will involve a lot of banging my head against a wall at least until GDPR kicks off, but I'm going to keep badgering them out of principle."

Maybe the best approach is to lay it on the line for them: "Do you want to deal with it now or would you rather wait until GDPR applies?".

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Re: Freedom of information?

LinkedIn are even more annoyingly insidious at this point.

I should delete mine. It's been a few years since I looked at it. After Micro-shaft took over I said "I'm gonna delete it". I've gotten occasional spam from it, too. Haven't logged in at all. Just too lazy I guess...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

" I know that some of my real "friends" have tagged me in pictures, mentioned me in events and discussed me in comments.

Now because I don't have an account, I can't manage or "untag" this stuff, even though it's information about me that's in the (semi) public domain, even before you start to look at advertising data or whatever."

If you don't have a FB account then you cannot be "tagged" as that is (usually) just a live link to an existing FB account (ie the one you don't have and therefore it doesn't exist).

So, it sounds like you might just have been "named" on some pages...and possibly your image might have been linked to your name on a photo or two...but that's about it.

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WTF?

Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

Now because I don't have an account, I can't manage or "untag" this stuff

Erm, if you don't have an account they cannot "tag" you at all. You can only tag (in Facebook terminology) another users account. If you don't have an account, that isn't possible.

If you mean someone has written your name - e.g. "this is me and John Smith" on a photo, then it's no wonder Facebook support staff are confused! Unless you have a very unique name I imagine it's nigh on impossible for them to accurately identify you - since as you said - you don't even have an account they can reference.

I'm sorry but the level of your ignorance is really a bigger problem than any "naughty stuff" Facebook are doing. The fact so many people upvoted the OP is frightening. Please feel free to explain how you think you have been "tagged" in a way anyone can uniquely and accurately identify you, if you feel different.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

Not only are people letting themselves down by using the Faecebook, but they are shitting on their friends too. And they don't even care as long as they can scare themselves with some hoax crime story that has been circulating since 2005 and many time debunked.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

You've managed to point out *exactly* how easy it is to uniquely and accurately track him!

They have his circle of friends *and* they also have his real name. I don't know about you, but I don't have two friends with the same name. Similarly, I don't have two friends with the same name *and* the same face*.

Facial recognition is getting better and better, so if you were to supply facebook with a photo and the account names of a small selection of friends, I'm sure Facebook could do a *very* reasonable job of walking their social graph and pulling up every photo and post which references you.

* What kind of monstrous parents would have identical twins and name them identically?

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

You've managed to point out *exactly* how easy it is to uniquely and accurately track him!

They have his circle of friends *and* they also have his real name. I don't know about you, but I don't have two friends with the same name. Similarly, I don't have two friends with the same name *and* the same face*.

Thank you. Precisely my point.

Add in that Facebook has probably slurped contact data from the mobile app on your phone, combined with some idiot giving your e-mail address away in that "invite your friend on to Facebook" page and you can then see how very easy indeed it is to triangulate all the data and build a profile of someone who isn't actually a user.

...and yes, I might just be in a few photos - but who said I consented to it?

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

who said I consented to it?

Again, your level of ignorance is worrying. Answer: The person who uploaded the photo (presumably one of your "friends" in real life) - and they **didn't** have to ask for your consent - that's very much the point. If I take photos of a load of people (whether they have Facebook accounts or not), I can upload them no problem. No consent is asked for or required to upload pictures. However, if you had a Facebook account - and I tagged you - you can set it such that you have to manually approve things before they appear (wall, news feed etc). You could also request them for deletion.

However... you don't have an account...you are not identified/tagged as far as FB are concerned, so none of that applies.

If I upload a photo of Paris Hilton on the wall of my Facebook, I do not ask her permission to do that, it just gets uploaded. As a case in point I just tested this, and yeah I can definitely upload a photo of pretty much anything or anyone. How does Paris know it's there? I haven't tagged her so it's not identified as being her - only someone (human) who views it and knows who she is could say that. There's no ID in Facebook to say "this is a photo of Paris Hilton" - it's just an image, not tagged to anyone. All anyone knows is who uploaded it.

If you're wanting the photos taken down then you need to speak to your friend (the one who uploaded them). Facebook can't help you here - precisely because you are **not** tagged! If you had an account then ironically you could much more easily get the photos/posts removed.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

"Again, your level of ignorance is worrying."

1) If he's not on Facebook, how can he know the exact way that tagging works?

2) The reality is that Facebook has photos of him, and are using them for commercial gain. It doesn't matter who gave them to Facebook, in order to use photos of people for commercial gain you need the explicit permission of everyone involved except in very restricted circumstances (e.g., news reporting). Holding the copyright is not enough.

More or less, Facebook's entire mode of operation is in violation of the future GDPR, particularly the personal data it holds of non-users. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

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Anonymous Coward

As a never-signed up non-member of the FB empire, how do I find out what they know about me without them finding out even more?

Answer: you can't. Neither can FB users. I just tried "download your data" with a friend who uses FB. FB's record of your browsing history, and their advertising profile for you, are NOT included. The closest thing I found is the list of advertisers who've targeted you by (basically) uploading a contact list with your name/email/whatever in it, which they probably obtained from sources other than FB.

What you want is a US GDPR that effectively outlaws the consumer surveillance, direct marketing, public records, people search, and 'instant background check' industries.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

1) He doesn't know how tagging works.

2) Go and try what I've said - upload a photo of anything or anyone. It will appear without their express permission or consent. Getting it removed is particularly hard for someone who **doesn't** have a FB account (and easier if you do have one - particularly if the post/photo is tagged against your account). Fact.

I have a FB account and know exactly how it works. I'm telling you how it actually works. You're going on about some pipedream of how you think it should work according to your own thoughts on privacy. I doubt GDPR will solve all this overnight, somehow!

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Re: Freedom of information?

I deleted mine a year ago, and boy am I glad I did. I don't get bottom-feeder recruiter email anymore!

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

"I'm sorry but the level of your ignorance is really a bigger problem than any "naughty stuff" Facebook are doing."

Bullshit. That non-Facebook users aren't experts in how Facebook works isn't a problem. The problem is that Facebook is a plague, and it's not unreasonable to suspect them of doing what they have consistently shown over years that they are so eager to do: spy on everybody.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

"The person who uploaded the photo (presumably one of your "friends" in real life) - and they **didn't** have to ask for your consent "

You're talking legalities here, when I think people are generally more concerned with what's right and wrong.

Personally, I'd be absolutely furious at any of my friends who uploaded a photo of me to any online service -- and especially Facebook or a Facebook company -- without my consent. Because doing so is just wrong.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

"What kind of monstrous parents would have identical twins and name them identically?"

I don't know if they were identical but I do know of one pair of twins who were given the same name. It was in the C18th.

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Re: Freedom of information?

"LinkedIn are even more annoyingly insidious at this point."

Facebook is the biggest target right now, but your fundamental point is correct. The real problem here is that too much of the tech sector has hitched its wagon to data mining as a means of social control and profit. All companies that behave this way are bad actors and need to be brought down.

But, if people begin to reject Facebook's use of these techniques, it will make it that much easier to make the rest of such companies either begin to be socially responsible or go out of business.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

You can "tag".. it just becomes a non-linked tag showing your name or whatever the "owner" of the account used. I found that out from my brother (I don't have an account) but he sent a link to a photo where I was "tagged". No link, just the name. There' must be a zillion people with the same name as me so... obscurity wins.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

But there are not a zillion people who both have your name and are your brother's brother.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

I'm not really prepared to carry on the debate from an OP who doesn't even have a Facebook account but claims to know how it works. So, to round off, here's how it works:

If you have an account - and are tagged in something - you can very easily press a button to Report content and ask for it to be removed. If you don't have an account, that function isn't available. These are facts and if you're not sure, make a dummy account to test it. It will take a damn sight longer to remove stuff from Facebook if you don't have an account, than if you do. This is even illustrated by the fact the OP is complaining he isn't getting a response from FB, when if he had an account, the Report feature would have already taken care of this extremely quickly. Feel free to dispute it, but if you test out both strategies I think you'll soon find out which gets the fastest result.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

It will take a damn sight longer to remove stuff from Facebook if you don't have an account, than if you do.

Well you very well illustrate a big part of the problem - many of the tools to "manage" your privacy require you to open an account with $provider, which requires you to accept their T&Cs. So in order to have $provider stop invading your privacy, you have to (taking typical T&C terms) give them permission to invade your privacy.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out when GDPR comes in. Given the story in ElReg about Ireland watering down privacy protections, I expect the first cases will be just tossed out, then there'll be an appeal to whichever EU body is responsible for complaince and the Irish government will be told in no uncertain terms that their law is illegal. There may be several rounds of this before Irish law correctly implements GDPR - and once that's in place then Farcebork are going to get well and truly reamed.

But like the OP, I know for a fact that Farcebork have personal information about me - thanks to "friends" and relatives who can't see what the fuss is about. At the moment I'm waiting for Max Schrems case to reach the point where (inevitably) Privacy SheildFigleaf gets struck down and then we can all start laying into them.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

You and he aren't really having a debate -- the points you're making aren't addressing the points he's making.

His complaint is that as a non-FB user, Facebook is storing data about him without his consent and he has no way to rectify that situation. Nothing you've said indicates that his point is invalid. All you're saying is "that's the way it is," which nobody is disputing -- indeed, his primary complaint is that that's the way it is.

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Devil

Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

Somehow that kicked off:

badger, badger, badger

in my head... I'm not quite as sick as what's his name.

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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

2) The reality is that Facebook has photos of him, and are using them for commercial gain. It doesn't matter who gave them to Facebook, in order to use photos of people for commercial gain you need the explicit permission of everyone involved except in very restricted circumstances (e.g., news reporting). Holding the copyright is not enough.

Under what law, exactly?

I'm asking as a (admittedly, long ago) trained journalist who's never heard of this particular law.

Granted, there are risks to using someone's image without their permission, particularly if you insinuate that they endorse some product or message. But I've never heard of a law that says you have to do it every time. If you can cite such a law, you could probably make a strong case for having Facebook firewalled entirely from that jurisdiction.

Example: do you think anyone asked for or got a signature from the two ladies standing in the bus shelter in the right in this photo?

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As a never-signed up non-member of the FB empire, how do I find out what they know about me without them finding out even more?

It's funny you should ask that.

You know those services that you can pay to have all your internet traces erased. You know the ones. They don't know you exist and then you contact them and they start searching for you using highly sophisticated techniques that analyse your writing style and even track down the aliases you wrote under and have long since forgotten and pin it to the walls, like in a Police Incident Room, and look at it and say "That's a lot of very revealing information that nobody had bothered to link and draw the lines between before; it'd be a shame if anything happened to it got into the public domain. Oh, by the way, we also have your bank details now as well - thanks for that."

No, I've never used one either ; D

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Re: What kind of monstrous parents would have identical twins and name them identically?

Can't remember exactly but I think it was The Book Of Heroic Failures from which I learned about an English Lord Somebodyorother in the 1800s who named his sons 'Balls' and 'Balls Junior'.

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Re: Under what law, exactly?

You're absolutely right - there is no such law.

The copyright on a photo of you remains with the photographer (or whomever they sell/grant it to), not you - you have no legal rights to your own face because it is, by definition, in the public domain.

But people are not only utterly clueless about copyright law but, furthermore, also believe in the fairytales of 'fair use'; to which I say "go and sample one, single beat by James Brown and see what the lawyers do to you - I refer you to The Shawshank Redemption's observation regarding the effects of being cast down with the sodomites."

They think that they can circumvent it by re-recording movie dialogue themselves.

They think that '5%' (or however much they erroneously believe) is legal.

You name it, they believe it - except, ironically, the one true fact of the matter that is that there is a copyright on something the second it is created whether anyone registers that copyright or not and the only reason for registering it (or giving a sealed envelope to your solicitor/bank manager) is to make it easier to prove that you are the owner of said copyright later.

People are ignorant and they like being ignorant - it means they can make fairytales up in their heads rather than make the effort to investigate matters and educate themselves.

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WTF?

And El Reg?

The only tab I have open in my browser is thsi El Reg article and Ghostery has blocked a tracker from Facebook Connect. WTF?

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Re: And El Reg?

Taken from the page source for this page...

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Re: And El Reg?

Really El Reg should do something like Bruce Schneier's website does - flick a switch to enable Facebook like slurp if you really want.

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Am I the only one who reads "social network" ...

... as "social disease"?

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Re: social disease

new moral cancer

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Re: social disease

new immoral cancer

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Re: social disease

I've just registered for an account for the first time just to upvote you for being a Fish-era Marillion fan.

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Re: Am I the only one who reads "social network" ...

I've never felt comfortable about the idea of 'social intercourse' to be honest - it leaves kind of a mentally sticky, salty taste in my mouth, as it were.

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I wonder if...

Facebook tell their customers I block ads? (Obviously,I use NoScript as well.)

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Anonymous Coward

They track you while you're sleeping,

They track while you're awake,

They know if you've been good or bad,

So only wholesome porn for goodness sake,

You better watch out,

Cos they love to spy,

best to script block,

I'm telling you why,

F*ckerburg is coming to town.

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

Why does every fucking article these days, be it the reg, or the BBC have to have some twitter post from someone most of us have no bloody idea who they are.

I'm not 14, I don't I don't give flying fuck what @sadtosser123 says about bog rolls or @123botnet says about Kim Whatsherface.

Stop it, please!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

"Why does every fucking article these days, be it the reg, or the BBC have to have some twitter post from someone most of us have no bloody idea who they are."

Amen!

And some of us have Twitter blocked at the router and hosts files and have to resort to uploading a "news" article to ulscan[.]io just to see what is going on.

Stop it already!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Yes but twitter is the perfect platform to obtain the opinion of the average idiot.

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Re: Why?

Talking of which, what has Donald been saying about Comey today?

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Pint

Re: Why?

Speak for yourself. I actually enjoyed that Twitter post.

Sincerely

World Toilet Seat Collection record holder 1998

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Re: Why?

#Stop it, please!

Start a hashtag campaign, or an online petition or jumpstarter or whatever fund...

Whatsit Goebbels said about culture, I'm starting to feel about the Social Netjerk

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