Popped over to an interesting story in the Los Angeles Times this morning, a piece by Jessica Guynn, about fans continuing to make pilgrimages to the home of Steve Jobs in Palo Alto. Some, Guynn reports, are coming in from as far away as Italy and Hong Kong. There’s a great photo of the house, with Job’s Mercedes sitting on the street, almost like it’s waiting for his return. Well written story. I was thoroughly into it when it hit me. I am surfing the web in denial. Mark Zuckerberg is keeping track of everything I do online. Everywhere I go, everything I read, Zuckerberg and his people at Facebook, are watching. Keeping track of my every move and using the information they gather to build a profile on me. This is over the top. I don’t like this at all, and it’s not like I’m alone.
Germany’s Consumer Protection Minister, Ilse Aigner, has issued a warning to her government colleagues against using Facebook. The Telegraph of London, reports on an Australian tech entrepreneur, Nik Cubrilovic, who found Facebook kept tracking him even when he logged out. According to newspaper, “When users log out of websites cookies are often deleted, but Mr Cubrilovic found that Facebook only altered them, while continuing to store data such as his account ID. This unique identifier could be used to track logged-out users when they visit other websites that have integrated Facebook functions, such as the “Like” button, he said.”
Other reports indicate the IRS is using FB to catch tax cheats and that various law enforcement agencies are using it to catch bad guys. Some employers are demanding that you provide them with your username and password, before they’ll let you fill out a job application. Even if employers don’t demand the information up front, there are now companies that specialize in mining personal information on you and others from the various social media websites. With 845 million users on FB, it was only a matter of time. You have to wonder who else might be using the service and for what purpose? Keep in mind that it’s a private company. Nobody put a gun to your head to become a Facebook user. You are there of your own free will. It could be argued that you’re giving your implied consent for Mr. Zuckerberg and his company to do what they will with any information they might collect on you — not to mention allowing others to collect.
If you don’t want Facebook looking over your shoulder and taking notes on your Internet activities, you can delete every Facebook cookie in your browser and use a separate browser for Facebook and Facebook alone. Apparently, that works. I still wouldn’t advise putting anything up on FB that you don’t want your grandmother or a prospective employer to see.
A final option would be to delete Facebook along with all its tracking cookies and simply move on. If you think you can live without Facebook in your life. Apple, is apparently trying. The new version of their operating system, OS X, “Mountain Lion,” features Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo, but not Facebook.
As for me, I’m thinking about going the second browser route. I’m not comfortable knowing that all my personal info is being gathered in by Mark Zuckerberg, but I’d rather not shut myself off from old friends, either. Or, maybe I’ll give in to my cyber-paranoia and just delete the thing. Why should I contribute to building Zuckerberg’s bank account? Is it really worth it? Modern problems….