They say “The onus is on us is to take all the data and scrub it,” said Arturo Bejar, a Facebook director of engineering. “What really matters is what we say as a company and back it up.”, except their track record on that matter isn't exactly stellar.
We know they don't actually delete messages or things you delete on FB, they just mark them "deleted". With that attitude to "deleting" things, what does it even matter?
And I don't care if they promise the data is not used for targeting ads, that is just one of the many ways this type of data can be abused.
The argument they use it to prevent "spam and phishing attacks" also seems dubious to me. How does that work? And the cookie that's kept contains just your facebook ID, so wouldn't that be trivial for spammers and phishers to work around?
And the most important thing is, they might act all innocent about it now, that they did it with the best intentions and not to continue tracking people after they log out. Let's believe that and lets assume this behaviour doesn't involve any other privacy implications: Facebook is by now well known for their feature-creep, if we hadn't caught them red-handed now, what's to say they wouldn't be using this data in a few months from now?
Sorry but it's all bullshit. Facebook doesn't care one bit about their user's privacy, they've made that perfectly clear by now, and them pretending to do otherwise in this article is absolutely laughable.
I've never written a web app that actually deletes data.
Actually its an attempt to make life easier on users. When you log in from another machine they sometimes use enhanced measures to confirm your identity. By keeping the cookie they get more confirmation that you are you.
I'm not justifying it. There's ways to prevent this that weren't taken. But I can see what they're trying to do.
Sure, but that's just a business decision, right?
For one, a lot of the data is synchronized to offline applications.
If you just delete the data on the server, it's gone and it becomes impossible to tell clients that they have to remove their copy. In this case, I could keep a second list of deleted items around and synch only that of course, but that would mean additional work and it wouldn't help for the other case:
Many times, end users wanted us to restore some data for them that they accidentally deleted. Back in the days that meant restoring the backup, and merging the backup with the current live data. A risky, complicated and thus expensive process.
Nowadays, I just set the delete flag to false and the problem is solved.
On the other hand, the data we are dealing with isn't nearly as sensitive as Facebooks and it's never shared between users.
About an year ago I deleted my Facebook account permanently. I even got a confirmation email after 14 days telling me I had deleted it. However, three or four months later I was forced to sign up for an account again. After I logged in, Facebook showed me a list of "suggested friends". Note that I had zero friends at this point. Guess what, every single person I had added as a friend in my previous account was in that suggested friends list. How is that possible if Facebook is not retaining information about me? You guys are obviously associating something with my name and email address. That, or you're telepathic.
So no, I don't believe you. I don't believe Facebook deletes any information at all.
 The info for every event I wanted to attend was on FB. Classmates talked about college and swapped notes on FB. People planned meetups and reunions on FB. It's scary how much happens on FB instead of face-to-face/phone/email now.
I deleted my account a few months ago. However I have no way of verifying if all that data is gone for good, overwritten with some new persons data to sell to marketers.
But the reason I deleted my Facebook account is because I just don't trust Facebook.
If you're paranoid, either don't use Facebook or clear your cookies after you log out. Don't you just love simple solutions?
They don't need a cookie in place to receive the IP of whoever loads a page with a Facebook 'like' button on it.
They're a big enough company with smart enough people to develop algorithms that can associate an IP address to a user account to at least a 95% confidence interval. They've got all that stuff you type in your profile and all the things you've shared to aid that, and the more you use your account the better they can predict.
To that end I'd be surprised if they don't continue to track 'deactivated' Facebook accounts. Not in anticipation of you going back to it, of course.
Internet-facing IP simply isn't unique enough for these purposes.
The more data they gather, and the more relationships they can record between you, your friends, and the pages you visit, the better they will get at tracking you without the cookies.
The sort of zeroing-in on individuals based on traits/information, however, does kind of remind me of this: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/target-a-facebook-ad-a-... - not really relevant, but still kind of cool.
Maybe I'm naive, but why would turning off the gathering of information take a while? This reminds me of unsubscribing to email newsletters, where the final goodbye says something like "you should stop receiving our emails within 6-8 weeks."
Thats a awfully cautions attitude and smells like a huge cop out for the well known fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants commit to live strategy that facebook has.
I'm only defending them because it annoys me when people who aren't familiar with the software internals tell me "this is a minor change, it should take you less than an hour".
Essentially, instead of FB like widget -> request to facebook I would think FB like widget -> add to local datastore.
Then FB could do an optimised/aggragated query on the local database. The only thing would be that it would introduce large latency in the resulting data if its sent back only on FB login.
They have a point. This is going to be the same for any site that has static content served elsewhere with cookies attached to the domain. Hot link to an image on my blog you commented on? OFFLINE DATA GATHERING ZOMG.
They don't really want to.
(I work at Facebook, but not on this.)
However, if one of the problems that they wanted to solve was 'we dont want to track user data unless they are logged in', they would have solved it by now.
The fact that they haven't means either (a) they just haven't thought about it or (b) they have thought about it, but do not want to solve it.
To do this, it needs to know who you are if you are a Facebook user that has not logged out. To do that, it needs to check the cookie that the Facebook web site sets when you are logged in.
Unfortunately, the web as it stands doesn't allow this interaction without divulging some information (time/date, browser, IP address, &c.) when the only interesting thing is who you are if you happen to be logged in.
This is the same problem that web analytics, certain comment systems, other social buttons, and other embedded functionality systems face.
About the best that can be done is explain what happens with that data when it is received - and that is explained at https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=186325668085084
The browser manages this - if they are logged in, set a cookie that will be sent to the hypothetical 'like' subdomain of facebook, if they are logged out, remove the cookie.
This kind of functionality is really not rocket science, there are dozens of ways to implement it and I feel kind of stupid talking about it.
There are reasons for facebook not doing this, but they are not technical ones.
Thanks to both of you!
not that third-party cookies aren't a big privacy issue, but this goes one step further.
I'm going to trust my gut on this one. I just get an uneasy feeling from their track record of 'mishaps' and the excuses that follow. There is a lot of stories that don't get enough attention or make enough people think...
Facebook might be called BigBrotherBlue when people look back one day. BigBrotherBlue is always watching.
What I'm talking about is the ability to limit when cookies as sent out with requests. Privacy wary users could perhaps have their browser set so that for example Facebook cookies are not sent to Facebook just because you're visiting a website that has code from Facebook on it, but only when you're actually browsing Facebook.
Imagine I wanted to do this but not be get caught. What would you improve? Clearly the cookies will need to look different pre and post logout, but how different?
A major faux pas like leaving your uid in the clear in the cookie after logout certainly seems to bother us, but I don't think users (even savvy users) care about leaving some cookies behind. For the record, I've installed various opt-out browser extensions in the past (only to switch computers/browsers and forget to bring them along)--I don't think my views are pro-cookie or even moderate.
In most contexts, that is true. A Slashdot cookie is just a line in a text file until you visit Slashdot. But a Facebook cookie is sent home every time you visit a page with any FB spam on it.
The mysql.com malware is trivial. Hitting Facebook would get most everyone, users and not.