Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
Facebook has basically made a business out of knowing as much as they can possibly find out about everyone. So, tracking your behaviour online and offline makes perfect sense to them. However, it might not seem that rosy to you. Sometimes, it's nice to have a little privacy.
There are many ways Facebook is tracking you and it's worth knowing how to block this tracking where possible and how to opt out when required. Sadly, it's getting more and more complicated as time goes by. Here are the main ways Facebook keeps tabs on you and the best ways to stop them.
Facebook Connect is the proper way of describing how you log into various sites around the web using your Facebook login. Obviously, Facebook will be learning certain things about your web habits if you use Facebook Connect, so it's best not to use it if you're worried about how much Facebook knows about you. Each time you log into a site using Facebook Connect you essentially add that site's app in Facebook. If you need more information on getting rid of Facebook applications, here's an article on How To Remove Spam Apps & Ensure App Privacy.
Block Cookie Tracking
Facebook and many other social networks will often try to track you online by using cookies. It can even happen when you're not logged into the site! However, it's possible to block this tracking using several useful browser tools, such as Do Not Track Plus, Ghostery and Disconnect as noted in this article: How To Block Facebook And Other Social Networks From Tracking You Online.
Opt-Out Of Data Collection From Third Parties
Facebook has recently teamed up with a U.S. data collection agency called Datalogix in order to track consumer buying habits offline and online, then match them to Facebook data via email addresses. It seems to be a process designed to give advertisers better feedback on actual sales, but it does seem to push the boundaries of most people's privacy expectations. Privacy groups are in fact against this process, but it's too early to say whether they will manage to stop this form of tracking altogether.
There are a couple of things you can do to eliminate this sort of tracking. Firstly, you could ensure that you use a different email address and phone number for Facebook than the one you use for online purchases or retailers doing market research. Secondly, you can opt out from third-party tracking.
To opt-out of Datalogix tracking completely, which will cover the Facebook tracking among other things, head to their privacy page. Under the "Choice" heading, there's an opt-out link for all Datalogix services which brings up the following form.
You need to enter a small amount of information, but this will ensure that after a 30 day processing period you're no longer tracked by Datalogix at all. I'm sure most privacy-conscious people would decide that it's worth it.
Now, the big question is whether Facebook will be teaming up with similar third-party tracking agencies in other countries. If so, we may find ourselves having to opt-out of dozens of agencies across the world.
Should Facebook give us an opt-out for all tracking in the privacy controls? I certainly think so.