Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This!

Roosendaal, Arnold

Numerous websites have implemented the Facebook Like button to let Facebook members share their interests, therewith promoting websites or news items. It is, thus, an important business tool for content providers. However, this article shows that the tool is also used to place cookies on the user’s computer, regardless whether a user actually uses the button when visiting a website. As an alternative business model this allows Facebook to track and trace users and to process their data. It appears that non-Facebook members can also be traced via the Like button. This means that Facebook’s tentacles reach far beyond their own platform and members. Due to the extensive web coverage with Like buttons, Facebook has a potential connection with all web users. Web activity can be linked to individual accounts or a separate data set can be created for individuals who are not (yet) a Facebook member. The hidden collection of data on browsing behavior and the creation of individual data sets has implications for the privacy of individuals. This article discusses privacy issues arising from third party cookie use and connectivity of web activity and devices, using the technical process behind the Facebook Like button as an example.