'We didn't mean to track you' says Facebook as social network giant admits to 'bugs' in new privacy row
In its latest privacy blunder, the social networking site was forced to confirm that it has been constantly tracking its 750million users, even when they are using other sites.
The social networking giant says the huge privacy breach was simply a mistake - that software automatically downloaded to users' computers when they logged in to Facebook 'inadvertently' sent information to the company, whether or not they were logged in at the time.
Most would assume that Facebook stops monitoring them after they leave its site, but technology bloggers discovered this was not the case.
In fact, data has been regularly sent back to the social network’s servers – data that could be worth billions when creating 'targeted' advertising based on the sites users visit.
Facebook claims to have 'fixed' the issue - and 'thanked' Mr Cubrilovic for pointing it out - while simultaneously claiming that it wasn't really an issue in the first place.
Mr Cubrilovic found that when you sign up to Facebook it automatically puts files known as ‘cookies’ on your computer which monitor your browsing history.
This is still the case. But Facebook claims the cookies no longer send information while you are logged out of its site. If you are logged in to Facebook, the cookies will still send the information, and they remain on your computer unless you manually delete them.
They send Facebook your IP address - the 'unique identifier' address of your PC - and information on whether you have visited millions of websites: anything with a Facebook ‘like’ or ‘recommend’ button on it.
'We place cookies on the computer of the user,' said a Facebook spokesperson - and admitted that some Facebook cookies send back the address of users' PCs and sites they had visited, even while logged out.
'Three of these cookies inadvertently included unique identifiers when the user had logged out of Facebook. We did not store these for logged out users. We could not have used this information.'
However, the site spokesperson said that the 'potential issue' had now been 'fixed' so that the cookies will no longer broadcast information: 'We fixed the cookies so they won't include unique information in the future when people log out.'