Over the last few months, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) rolled out several new features, many of which were aimed at giving users more control over their personal settings.
On Thursday, June 12, 2014, the social media giant announced that it was going to allow users to alter their advertising profiles, the goal of which is to let Facebook users decide whether to remove a certain type of ad from their profile.
A report in the New York Times that same day went on to explain that Facebook doesn’t just track user information on its own site; it tracks what users do on other websites, the types of apps they download for smartphones, and cookie crumbs users leave when visiting websites, or after downloading programs to their computers or apps to their smartphones.
Once again, this is a reminder to all Internet users, that it’s almost impossible to do anything online without leaving a digital footprint – something that lets companies like Facebook, who have the resources to buy or get that information, track their every move.
The clincher, however, is that people who want to opt out of advertising have to visit another website and go through a list of companies, many of whose names are unfamiliar – making it hard for Facebook users to know exactly what they’re opting out from when they click on the boxes next to a company’s name.
The announcement, not surprisingly, raised eyebrows among privacy advocates, who have pressured the government to step up measures to prevent Facebook from finding ways to sidetrack the settlement the network made with the FCC about upholding privacy promises back in 2012.
The story, were it to stand alone, without any mention of how Facebook intends to find alternative ways to track Internet users’ online activity, might sound like a sincere move from Facebook, to give users a genuine chance to control the extent to which the social media super power can track their activity on the site.