Tag Archive: Yahoo

For the first time, Facebook has revealed details about how it tracks users across the web.

Through interviews with Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes, Facebook corporate spokesman Barry Schnitt and Facebook engineering manager Gregg Stefancik, USA Today‘s Byron Acohido was able to compile the most complete picture to date of how the social network keeps tabs on its 800 million users.

Here is what Acohido learned:

    • Facebook doesn’t track everybody the same way. It uses different methods for members who have signed in and are using their accounts, members who are logged-off and non-members.
    • The first time you arrive at any Facebook.com page, the company inserts cookies in your browser. If you sign up for an account, it inserts two types of cookies. If you don’t set up an account, it only inserts one of the two types.
    • These cookies record every time you visit another website that uses a Facebook Like button or other Facebook plugin — which work together with the cookies to note the time, date and website being visited. Unique characteristics that identify your computer are also recorded.
    • Facebook keeps logs that record your past 90 days of activity. It deletes entries older than 90 days.
    • If you are logged into a Facebook account, your name, email address, friends and all of the other data in your Facebook profile is also recorded.

Data about web searches and browsing habits could be used to figure out political affiliations, religious beliefs, sexual orientations or health issues about consumers. According to USA Today, this type of correlation doesn’t seem to be happening on a wide scale, but the concern of some privacy advocates is that selling data could become a tempting business proposition — both to social networks like Facebook and online advertising players such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that similarly employ cookie tracking techniques.

Facebook told USA Today that it uses data collected via cookies to help improve security and its plugins and that it has no plans to change how it uses this data. It has, however, applied for a patent on a technology that includes a method that correlates ads and tracking data.

“We patent lots of things, and future products should not be inferred from our patent application,” Facebook corporate spokesman Barry Schnitt told USA Today.

Regardless of how Facebook is handling the data it collects through cookies, by doing so it has entered a very sticky debate about whether consumers should be able to opt out of being tracked by such methods. Aproposed law that would create this option was introduced in February.

While a recent poll found that about 70% of Facebook users and 52% of Google users were either somewhat or very concerned about their privacy, some argue that online commerce would suffer without online tracking.

Thanks: Mashable



Bing launches HTML5 video front page


Microsoft’s Bing search web site has always had a new and colorful photo every day on its front page, as opposed to the all white background for Google’s front page. Today, users of HTML5-based web browsers who surf over to Bing.com will see something different. Instead of a static image, the front page now has a background that runs a time-lapsed video showing several hours of a rural mountain horizon.

Microsoft’s Bing blog site states that non-HTML5 web browsers will see a static image on the front page when Microsoft puts in a video. The HTML5 video page can only be seen by US web surfers for some reason but Microsoft plans to open up the video page to other parts of the world in the next few months. There’s also another video on the blog page that goes into a little more detail about how the Bing team at Microsoft picks which images and videos they decide to feature on the front page. There won’t be a new video every day on Bing.com. Microsoft says it will post a new video on the front page “just when the mood strikes us.”

Bing’s market share is growing in the search business but as we reported earlier this week, it has a long way to go before it can make a significant dent in Google’s search business. Bing has so far lost $5.5 billion for Microsoft since the web site launched back in 2009 and it doesn’t look like it will be making money anytime soon, if ever.

Thanks: Neowin