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Facebook faces suits for tracking logged out users.

On October 9, 2011, in Litigation, Social Networking, United States, by Jorge Espinosa

It has been a busy legal week for Facebook.  Three separate suits were filed against the social media giant alleging that the company violated united states wiretap laws and state consumer protection laws by tracking user web browsing even when they were not logged into Facebook.  The suits were filed in Texas, Kansas and Illinois by three different Facebook users.  Together with two suits filed the week before in California, this brings the total number of suits filed against Facebook for its tracking activity to five.

Information about Facebook’s tracking activities was first disclosed last month when Australian developer Nic Cubrilovic, reported that Facebook was able track when users visited non-Facebook sites.  Facebook accomplished this with cookies, the “like” button and other social widgets.  As a result of this report, several consumer privacy groups including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Consumer Action, the American Library Association, and the Center for Digital Democracy, requested that the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) launch an investigation.

The Kansas suit seeks treatment as a class actions which would bring into the suit a wide array of users.  If any of these suits succeed, Facebook could face damages of thousands of dollars per violation together with a permanent injunction against such future conduct.

How can you protect yourself from being tracked?  Find out how to located cookies on your browser.  Then delete any cookies from Facebook.  Some add-ons to browsers such as Firefox or Chrome allow you to block cookies or even to surf the web “incognito” which will save no cookies during the session.

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Jorge Espinosa

 

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