back to article Three quarters of US Facebook users unaware their online behavior gets tracked

Most Facebook users have no idea that the ad biz compiles data profiles of their online activities and interests, according to research conducted by the non-profit Pew Research Center. That's not altogether surprising given that Facebook appeals to people disinclined to concern themselves with the minutiae of digital …

  1. shawnfromnh

    From experience I find that most US facebook users I know are unaware of how computers work or don't care if their information is taken. Basically the normal Facebook user is an idiot that knows how to get to facebook. It's time we have in internet test to see if people are smart enough to be allowed online like the old idea of people should have to take a test to see if they are smart enough to reproduce because there would be a hell of a lot less children in this world if an IQ test passing grade was manditory for parenthood and it in exchange would raise the worlds IQ average since only people that possess a minimum of the intelligence genes would be having babies though we'd let them all have sex but babies would be off limits.

    1. Keef
      Headmaster

      'It's time we have in internet test to see if people are smart enough to be allowed online like the old idea of people should have to take a test to see if they are smart enough to reproduce because there would be a hell of a lot less children in this world if an IQ test passing grade was manditory for parenthood and it in exchange would raise the worlds IQ average since only people that possess a minimum of the intelligence genes would be having babies though we'd let them all have sex but babies would be off limits.'

      That's a very long sentence.

      Should we have a test to see if people can use punctuation properly before being allowed to post on internet forums?

      Should we introduce an arbitrary rule banning people who can't spell mandatory from some activity or other while we're at it?

      Perhaps another test for people who can't differentiate between a plural and a possessive, see 'raise the worlds IQ average'.

      I'm sure there's some punctuation problems in my post, it's just the nature of things when you're having a dig at someone.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Not sure, but...

        "I'm sure there's some punctuation problems in my post"

        Shouldn't this be: "I'm sure there're some punctuation problems in my post" ?

        "There is" (in my mind at least) points to the singular "a problem", rather than "some problems".

        Could be wrong of course :)

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Trollface

          @ Sir Runcible Spoon -- Re: Not sure, but...

          No, your not!

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: @ Sir Runcible Spoon -- Not sure, but...

            Swine :P

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      only people that possess a minimum of the intelligence genes would be having babies

      Genes may be a part, but the build of intelligence comes mainly from education. Give a stimulating environment to a child and his/her intelligence will be thriving.

    3. SharpOB

      That's eugenics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Khaaaaaaaaaan!

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      The IQ average will remain at 100, by definition, no?

      1. gv

        "The IQ average will remain at 100, by definition, no?"

        I wish I had more than 1 up vote.

      2. Anonymous Bullard
        Headmaster

        The median.

        (sorry, just trying to stop it lowering)

    5. Kane Silver badge
    6. Just Enough
      Headmaster

      @hrsshawnfromnh

      I've applied my test and you failed. Please hand in your router to the nearest police station.

      Particular points for you to improve upon before your next application;

      - punctuation

      - Nazi ideology

      - dumb ideas

    7. Someone Else Silver badge
      Facepalm

      The headline states:

      Three quarters of US Facebook users unaware their online behavior gets tracked

      Three quarters of US Facebook users are dumber than soup.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        George Carlin's observation was the half the people were below average, but I think he was assuming a symmetrical bell curve. I'm convinced that the vast majority are bunched up on the left side of the graph.

        1. mosw

          "George Carlin's observation was the half the people were below average"

          Well that's just mean.

    8. Monkeydude40

      There is in Europe, its the ECDL. http://ecdl.org/

      Just a shame its not mandatory. My mum passed hers when she was secretary to the Mayor of her home town and now she nearly knows as much as I do about computers.

    9. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "an IQ test passing grade"

      What, like 70% or something? This would shut out almost everyone with IQs in the normal range.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Does the fly know it's about to land on shit

    Or is it just driven by blind instinct and need?

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Does the fly know it's about to land on shit

      I think it just likes the smell.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does the fly know it's about to land on shit

      The fly has to land somewhere at some point.

      Theresa May is as good a place as any.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does the fly know it's about to land on shit

        But at least she's trying to achieve something whereas you're just a useless turd.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Does the fly know it's about to land on shit

          .... worst PM ever?

          Job done.

  3. SMITCH79

    "like the old idea of people should have to take a test to see if they are smart enough to reproduce"

    Any idea that compares itself as being like that is bad by default. Kids (all of us really) reflect their environment so we should focus on making the environment better (better education, better job opportunities, more open society, better healthcare, etc) not by putting people in further categories and groups. We already have enough of that.

    IMO I don't think you can be born errrm, dumb, it's just that as we grow we learn to prioritise the skills and knowledge that are important to our continued survival and fulfillment of our needs. Next time you meet someone one who you think is dumb take some time to talk to them about what their interests and life experiences are (don't measure them by yours). Its amazing what you can learn.

    Anyway we all get addicted to something - other people, drugs, pain, pleasure, being a git.

    Facebook has just learned (really quite effectively) how to make their platform addictive exploiting behavioral psychology traits that have been known about for decades. Who cares how it works, just give me the dopamine! I get that.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Unhappy

      It also depends on how you decide to define intelligence that decade (historically, the process has been to jiggle the definition and associated testing methods until the tester's social/ethnic/cultural/gender/etc. group comes out mostly above the mean!).

    2. Adelio

      They need to be fit to be a parent, being smart does not mean you are fit to be a parent.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FB is a boil on the bum of mankind!

    How stupid do you have to be to not know this? Oh, right! Facebook user stupid!

    Of course FB collects anything they can, slices and dices any data they can. They have to make money through advertising and selling the data, the more private it is the more it's worth to others. The problem is that most people simply see something "free", not realsing the real cost being paid.

    FB has it's uses if you know how to exploit it, I do exploit it to make money from sales of my art and I've made some good contacts through it but it's still "dancing with the devil" when you use it, and you most certainly feel dirty and in need of a shower afterwards!

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: FB is a boil on the bum of mankind!

      I've always heard that "if it's free - you're the product" and have yet to encounter a scenario where this has proven to be false.

    2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

      Re: FB is a boil on the bum of mankind!

      Hey, I make $2303.58 per month on FB just worknig from my home 2 huors per day. It's easy and anyone cna do it!!! If you want to find the same, just click hear -> []

      Sorry, couldn't resist!

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Trollface

    No kidding

    The most stupid behavior could not be a surprise from a country which elected an orange Pinocchio as President.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: No kidding

      I'm pretty sure, while the study was there, the results are pretty broadly applicable to humanity as a whole.

      That makes me sad.

      Then I remember I honestly don't care about the the human race anymore.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: No kidding

        Before we Brits start feeling too superior - is there any evidence the statistics would be any different for the UK?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: No kidding

          Before we Brits start feeling too superior - is there any evidence the statistics would be any different for the UK?

          I expect much the same. A Faecebook user is a Faecebook user regardless of where they live. We have our fair share of morons. Some might say more.

          1. Flywheel Silver badge

            Re: No kidding

            We have our fair share of morons

            And many of them have not only been working overtime lately, they've actually been featured heavily on TV!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No kidding

            I would disagree that the Brit share of morons is greater than elsewhere, I have an impression that, in the "right" circumstances, those of moronic disposition just wake up and crawl out into the open, becoming more conspicuous, thus passing for "majority of", while they're usually miniscule, or at best small, but highly visible (hurrah for media coverage!) fringe number. Nevertheless, for the rest of the (moronic) humanity, it's the impressions that count. So yes, to be more specific, i.e. re. brexit, the Brits are considered idiots in at least a couple of European countries. Arguably though, one might say that the French hi-viz protest participants are as stupid as the Brits, i.e. want to have a cake, AND want to eat it AND don't want to pay for it AND blame others for stealing it, etc.

            1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

              Re: No kidding

              To paraphrase one of my former maths teachers "Any sufficiently large group of individuals will always contain the same proportion of morons".

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: No kidding

          Of course we are much smarter in the UK.

          I mean, it's not as if we voted to leave the most poweful trading block in the world, is it?

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: No kidding

        "Then I remember I honestly don't care about the the human race anymore."

        I'm confident that no-one will ever accuse me of being racist, because *all* humans look the same to me.

      3. Ian Emery Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: No kidding

        Agreed.

        I have long held the belief that 75% or more of the people I have met are mouth breathers, no matter what level of "Education" they can claim (and can prove).

        I used to joke about a radio station called "Breathe FM" (there is one now!!), all day long this mythical station would broadcast "Breathe in.........Breathe out".

        And when it went off air for AN HOUR, due to a power cut, millions suffocated.

        1. VikiAi Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: No kidding

          If recent studies about genes required for the development of high-order brain function are anything to go by, then 75% is about right!

          Interestingly, the genes (or more correctly their absence) are so evenly spread through the human population that they appear to pre-date any regional diversification meaning for most of the past 100,000 years, having 3/4 of the population - while not necessarily 'stupid' by any reasonable definition - rather easily lead around by proponents of questionable ideas was a general advantage for the survival of the species!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No kidding

      Now Sir!

      How dare you!

      Trump has done a lot for the, the, the, ummmm, the, aaaahhh; Fast Food industry!

      1. Wincerind

        Re: No kidding

        Ah, the humble Hamberder.

  6. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    What was that Zuckerberg quote again?

    Something something stupid fucks something.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Most computer users are pretty casual...

    I wish more people really cared and paid attention to cybersecurity and privacy and data retention, but the fact is that most people want to get on their computer, share pictures/opinions via social media, send some emails and check out the sports scores. I can't really blame them for that.

    The truth is that all that utopian stuff from the late 90s and early "oughties" about how the internet would set us free has turned into something much darker. The cost of computing and storage is so low now and both commercial, governmental and social media mob surveillance is so pervasive now that the internet has turned pretty dystopian, veering between political correctness, political extremism, a corporatist data-mining operation and a government tool for tracking populations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Most computer users are pretty casual...

      The problem with FB addicts is that they get most of their news from FB's news feed and it probably doesn't contain a lot of news about security/privacy concerns around FB, hence this story

      (not a FB user, but they are obviously tracking me and building a profile through web bugs, etc, embedded in just about any site with a FB button)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sheeple

    they're so easy to condemn and I'll be the first one to do that, particularly re. facebook users. But we're all "sheeple" in a growing number of fields, as it seems the world is getting more complicated by the day. Well, maybe not complicated, but increasingly fragmented, demanding myriads of microdecisions, constantly. Something's got to give, and if making, or failing to make a decision has no _instant_ consequences, that's what happens, the path of the least resistance, by default. And yes, FB evil master have been using (arguably abusing) this trait for their own benefit, he study is interesting to confirm this, but then... so what? In 10 years time we'll have had 100% population surveillance in public, and increasingly, in private, and we will have accepted it, because it doesn't hurt instantly, at least not those 99% subjected to it. Likewise, being micro-chipped, etc. We have already accepted being fingerprinted without being accused of commiting any crime, going through a "naked" scanner at the airport, being tracked on our drive and commute. Resistance is futile, cause there is no resistance (which is great for those in power, by the way).

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: sheeple

      You may have accepted being fingerprinted and scanned at the airport but some of us refuse to visit the Democratic People's Republic of USA for those very reasons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sheeple

        oh, so how did you get your passport in the (United) Kingdom to see those greener pastures that do not require a fingerprint (yet)?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: sheeple

          By providing a photo and proof of residence/birth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: sheeple

            that must have been quite some time ago, because, if I'm not wrong, for the last couple of years, the only UK passports issued have been biometric ones, where your fingerprint is required, no?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sheeple

      Downvoted for:

      1) The term "sheeple"

      2) Lack of paragraphs.

      3) Happily giving in to the anal probe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sheeple

        Presumably, when they invite to grope your jewels at the airport, you tell them to (...) leave you alone? Likewise, when you fly out of Heathrow, you sneak underneath the scanner booth? And I bet you cover your car plates when driving, and only pay by cash when travelling by public (and private) transport?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: sheeple

          You got it!

          .... or maybe I simply haven't happily accepted it as normal behaviour, like you seem to have done.

          Ever heard of mission creep? The more you accept, the more they'll put on you.

      2. VikiAi Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: sheeple

        I always find it a bit on-the-nose that, after many tens of thousands of years of US HUMANS specifically selectively breeding sheep for their flocking behavior, we then make fun of them for it!

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    "the average Facebook user would require more than $1,000 to deactivate their account for one year."

    Which, given that the average user is worth only a few dollars a year to Facebook[0] is surely a good deal for someone. I'm just not quite sure I can work out for whom.

    [0] Turnover 2018: $52B (https://www.statista.com/statistics/422035/facebooks-quarterly-global-revenue/)

    Number of users 2018: 2.3B (https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/)

    Average turnover per user = $23. Which curiously, doesn't seem to have changed since I looked at it a few years back.

    1. Bill Gray

      Re: "average Facebook user would require more than $1,000 to deactivate their account for one year"

      I wondered about this. It suggests Facebook would be (much) more profitable if it charged its users rather than selling their information.

      Of course, what they would actually do is to charge users _and_ sell their information. (They have a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders, after all.)

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: "average Facebook user would require more than $1,000 to deactivate their account for one year"

        I gotcher "fud-douche-iary responsibility" right 'ere!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is how the average person uses Facebook

    - start a web browser, Google is the start page

    - enter facebook.com in the search box

    - click the first link that comes up

    If you tell them they could just enter facebook.com in the URL box, the best you can hope for is a look of withering pity that you are such a massive nerd that you know or even care what that is.

    Basically what I am saying is, that ship has sailed, Facebook and Google have dumbed the population down sufficiently that they will never leave of their own free will.

  11. alain williams Silver badge

    It is not so much that facebook knows stuff ...

    about people (most will say 'so what, why should I care ?') but what happens to that knowledge; this is a bit more nebulous and not so easy to understand.

    One lady (single, mid 20s, well paid job) I met a year ago liked it that when she went somewhere the web site knew the sort of things that she liked to buy. It made on-line shopping better for her. She could not care less about privacy or that prices displayed might be 'tailored' for her.

    But this is exactly what others (including me) do not like.

  12. Tony Paulazzo

    Maybe stop equating user surveillance with selling ads as people are not worried about advertising, they may not like it, feel they're immune to it or even like being pointed at things they're interested in. Maybe we need to start equating it to secret police, dawn disappearances, the search for model citizens.

    Maybe then, people would start caring.

    The most insidious is the Chinese get good citizen points for online activities program they're rolling out nationwide - especially as now they're beginning to be every-bodies trading partner.

  13. Paul Smith

    Self-classification

    "Reports of misclassification came more frequently from self-described moderates"

    Don't all extremists think their own behavior is reasonable?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self-classification

      Absolutely. Most people's definition of normal and average starts with themselves. I mean, what normal person would describe themselves as abnormal.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Self-classification

        Considering most people are delusional these days I'd say a lot :)

      2. DJV Silver badge

        what normal person would describe themselves as abnormal

        Me, I'm both normal and abnormal! So there, nyah!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another suggestion for a survey.....

    .....would be to ask 1000 people who use the internet OR have a cell phone two questions:

    1. How many organisations do you think are tracking your internet OR cell phone usage?

    The question should be a multiple choice question: NONE, ONE, TWO, ANOTHER NUMBER HIGHER THAN TWO

    2. If you answered ONE or more, please name the organisations you were thinking about.

    Surely it should be obvious that your cell phone provider (if you have one) and your internet provider (if you have one) must be tracking you. Then there's FB, the NSA, GCHQ and who knows how many other bad actors out there.

    So for most people in the proposed survey, surely the answer should be at least THREE and maybe FOUR or FIVE. My guess after this article is that the majority of survey respondents would say NONE (or "What are you talking about").

    Go figure.

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    The survey is self-selecting

    They questioned Facebook users, anyone who cares about this kind of thing isn't a Facebook user so didn't take part in the survey.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: The survey is self-selecting

      Or, if they are a Facebook user and DO care about that sort of thing, then they use the FB Purity add-on.

  16. Tromos

    I would love to see the assertion that the average FB user would want $1000 to give up their account for a year tested. Let FB announce that they would drop all snooping, tracking, data collection, etc. but instead make their money by charging a $20 per month subscription. This comes to less than a quarter of the annual amount that the survey states FB users value it at, so the drop in users should be fairly minimal (and the subscription income more than make up for the loss of advertising revenue). I suspect the reality would be that users leave in droves and FB would become immediately untenable.

    It's far too easy to give extreme answers to hypothetical questions posed in a survey. Initially, I would have said that I'd want $1000 to consider opening a Facebook account but, realistically, $50 dollars would probably do it (I don't have to use it after all).

  17. Daniel Hall
    Flame

    Most what?

    Title: Most US users...

    First line of article: Most Facebook users

    The UK is not the US.

    The rest of the world is not the US.

    I complained before about this website and the lack of transparency up front of whether an article is written by a US or UK person.

    I'll say it again.

    Hire BRITISH writers.

    1. Number6

      Re: Most what?

      How do you know it's not a British person living in the US?

    2. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Most what?

      byline: "By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco 17 Jan 2019 at 02:08 "

      That's surely San Francisco, Manchester, yes?

  18. tdarais

    MeWe Is Much Better Than Facebook - Make the Switch!

    I'm surprised that more people haven't discovered MeWe, they have a great logo, a great user interface, a great user "bill of rights," and a great "freemium use" model--the platform is free for users, but they do include two or three pay features that they rely on for sustainability and growth (rather than rely on advertising or "selling user data").

    I recently read that MeWe is gaining 30,000 users per day. It won't surprise me if that growth increases to 50,000 users per day or 100,000 users per day (or more) the way things are going with Facebook.

    "Facebook is an advertising company masquerading as a social network - the latter exists just to give a platform to the former, which is what makes the money." See: https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/facebook-data-breach-delete-account

    1. Rudolph Hucker the Third

      Re: MeWe Is Much Better Than Facebook - Make the Switch!

      "Is your social media stalking you?"

      https://mewe.com/challenge

      https://mewe.com/faq

  19. Smartypantz

    Yours and mine

    Your data is your data! You have an obligation to be hygienic about your own data! Most people are 100% frivolous about their data,. They will sell that shit for the tiniest amount of convenience!! YES you will ! You HAVE, and you DO!! People NEED to be aware of the consequences of this sale! if they are not, they, no WE, will be ruled.... Harshly!!..

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