Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This!

Tilburg Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 03/2011

10 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2010 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014

Arnold Roosendaal

TNO Information and Communication Technology in Delft

Date Written: November 30, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Facebook, Like button, Cookies, Profiling, privacy, Data protection

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Roosendaal, Arnold, Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This! (November 30, 2010). Tilburg Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 03/2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1717563 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1717563

Arnold Roosendaal (Contact Author)

TNO Information and Communication Technology in Delft ( email )

Delft
Netherlands

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