Commentary

Facebook Explains Data Collection, Claims It's No Different From Rivals

Following Mark Zuckerberg’s rope-a-dope testimony on Capitol Hill last week, Facebook is (sort of) clarifying how it handles off-site user data.

The company tracks consumers’ activity across websites and apps other than its own for three reasons, says David Baser, product management director at Facebook. 

Those reasons include “providing our services to these [third-party] sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services,” Baser explains in a new blog post.

From there, Baser goes into greater detail about Facebook’s tracking policy, albeit in terms that will probably fly over most users’ heads.

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Baser also acknowledges that Facebook tracks the data of consumers who don’t belong to its massive community. Mirroring Zuckerberg’s murky answers on the subject last week, Baser doesn’t explain what Facebook knows about non-users.

“When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information, even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account,” he said.

Then, using some schoolyard logic, Baser pointed out that Facebook isn’t the only company collecting user data from across the Web.

“Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them,” he said.

Tattling on its rivals, Baser said: “Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services. Google has a popular analytics service,” Baser added. “And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features.

“These companies -- and many others -- also offer advertising services,” he added.

“In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.”

Does that make it right? Facebook seems to think so. Whether users and their elected representatives agree remains to be seen.

9 comments about "Facebook Explains Data Collection, Claims It's No Different From Rivals".
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  1. Dan Ciccone from rEvXP, April 18, 2018 at 9:54 a.m.

    It's amazing how many journalists are shocked with, and condeming, Facebook over these data collection policies without disclosing their own site's tracking practices.

    To the author - do you know that there are 23 trackers on this page alone? 3 of which are from Facebook.

    OpenX, DoubleClick, Rubicon, Appnexus, Yahoo, LiveRamp, Google, Adroll, TripleLift, and New Relic to name a few.

    Why does MediaPost need to run over 20 tracking pixels?  To collect data on the users that come to its site that it can sell to advertisers or other data collection services that sell our data to other advertisers.

    We can opt out of these trackers through Ad Choices and ad blockers, but the point really is that there are very few publishers out there that are not tracking and collecting data on every visitor to its platform, so please stop acting so dismayed and shocked by what Facebook does with the data it collects when most online publishers are just as culpable.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 18, 2018 at 10:14 a.m.

    They cross over on their data, too. Look at something on another site and then all of a sudden you get an ad for that on fbeast. Number 1: Do not click on ads. Not a complete solution, but it helps. GDPR can't come fast enough. Although it is not as thorough as it should be and won't solve it all, it is a springboard and better than we have now.

  3. Sloan Sehr from Cluep replied, April 18, 2018 at 10:20 a.m.

    Amen Dan...couldnt agree more

  4. Patrick Stroh from Brunner / data science, analytics replied, April 18, 2018 at 10:25 a.m.

    You nailed it, Dan.  (Ghostery is a nice little tool, eh?)  
    What's also fun is to watch the continuing stream of companies advertising on LinkedIn etc. that claim those same "repulsive" tracking features ... aka people based marketing, people / device graphs, etc.  
    The amusing part of course will be how FB's treatment of this issue will actually spill over into all these other companies ... (I wonder what they think of that!).

  5. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston replied, April 18, 2018 at 10:32 a.m.

    If only there was a like button for comments, I could click it instead of post a thank-you.

  6. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston replied, April 18, 2018 at 10:34 a.m.

    Using an anonymous browser helps, too, if you'd like to click through to an advertisement.  http://anonymouse.org/anonwww.html

  7. Michael Parent from FreeWheel, April 18, 2018 at 10:56 a.m.

    It perfectly sums up the FAKE NEWS!
    Thanks, Dan

  8. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, April 18, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.

    Would love to know what software I could deploy to show which trackers are active on a page. Can you share?

  9. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, April 18, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    Ghostery. Thank you. 

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