Facebook Logged-Out User Tracking Patent

This document is considered by many to be a patent for tracking logged-out users across their activities on other domains. Facebook denies that it is designed for this purpose.

COMMUNICATING INFORMATION IN A SOCIAL NETWORK SYSTEM ABOUT ACTIVITIES FROM ANOTHER DOMAIN

  • 27 pages
  • Sep. 22, 2011

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ABSTRACT

In one embodiment, a method is described for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain. The method includes maintaining a profile for each of one or more users of the social networking system, each profile identifying a connection to one or more other users of the social networking system and including information about the user. The method additionally includes receiving one or more communications from a third-party website having a different domain than the social network system, each message communicating an action taken by a user of the social networking system on the thirdparty website. The method additionally includes logging the actions taken on the third-party website in the social networking system, each logged action including information about the action. The method further includes correlating the logged actions with one or more advertisements presented to the one or more users on the third-party website as well as correlating the logged actions with a user of the social networking system.

5 comments for “Facebook Logged-Out User Tracking Patent

  1. Joel
    October 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    a description in layman’s terms… not everyone is a computer programmer…

  2. October 8, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Joel, basically a pixel (or tag) on a page communicates with your browser, and your browser reports back to Facebook. If you’re Facebook, and you’re powerful (and arguably useful) enough to have developers dropping your code on *their* pages (via a Like button, for example, or the “comment with your Facebook account” feature), then you have the opportunity to collect your members’ visits on all those sites. Google has a wider reach in this regard. I.e., they theoretically could track most of our activity most of the time now (using advertising and analytics tags, the Chrome browser, etc.). The key, of course, is to stay vigilant. We need to protect universal access to the Internet (this is unfortunately an ignored priority in the current administration, as in the previous one) while protecting the privacy of our use of it. We have a long way to go, but companies like Google have demonstrated a willingness to lead on issues of privacy (thankfully), and companies like Facebook have demonstrated a willingness to change their policies if there is a big enough outcry. Both examples are better than the example the cable companies have set. They *really* have access to your browsing and email history alike, and they are much less likely to respond to public pressure (and *much* more likely to demonstrate a casual attitude, if not an outright antagonism, toward privacy laws).

    • Public Intelligence
      October 8, 2011 at 4:56 am

      Well said.

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