If you think that you successfully avoid being tracked by Facebook just because you don’t have a Facebook account, it might be time to think again.
Recently, a Belgian court ordered the social media company to stop tracking people that did not have a Facebook site - but this problem doesn’t solely exist in Belgium.
How Facebook Tracks Non-Users
Facebook’s ‘datr’ cookies do things like find out who you are, what age or other category you fall into, and where you like to go online - in addition to learning which articles you have clicked on. Facebook does all of this in order to attract more users to the Facebook site, and to just gain general marketing information about you - so the claim goes.
In Belgium, the datr cookies that Facebook uses have been found to infringe on privacy rights, but these methods are still working full force elsewhere in the world. Facebook has responded to the accusations telling press that the company does not gather any personal information, but only uses the cookies to determine who is is visiting the Facebook site legitimately (as opposed to spammers, etc).
How Much Does Facebook Know?
This is not the first time that Facebook has come under fire where privacy is concerned. The company has a long-standing record of questionable privacy tactics. How much does Facebook know about you, and can you stop the data gathering? If you have a Facebook account that you use regularly, you cannot stop the company from gathering information about you when you use your Facebook page.
Everything you do on Facebook (from liking bands to joining groups or following people) provides the company with many different details about you. On the one hand, this does help Facebook create a more customized news feed experience. On the other hand, it means that you can’t do anything on the social media site without Facebook knowing about it - the Facebook algorithm is massive and includes tracking nearly everything you do.
Stopping the Tracking
If you don’t have a Facebook account and want to remain anonymous, the best way to prevent the company from gathering information about you is to avoid clicking on any links that seem to have come from the Facebook site. In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid going to the Facebook site altogether (which can be hard, since many companies now only have Facebook pages).
If you do have a Facebook page, know that you are likely being tracked. Whether or not you determine that to be a good or bad thing is up to you, but you can’t use the Facebook service without consenting to giving away some data. For now, Facebook can’t track non-uses in Belgium, but the social media company does have plans to appeal this ruling. In other parts of the world, well, Facebook is as present as it ever was.