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Illegal for Facebook to Track Online Activity After You Log Off?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Most people who use the Internet for social networking realize that their information may not always be private. But is Facebook's tracking of user data illegal?

Is it an invasion of privacy?

That's certainly the question on the minds of many consumer advocates. And it's why they've fired off a letter to the FTC demanding an investigation. The groups say that the social networking site tracked user data after they've logged off.

Facebook has responded by saying that they've corrected the issue. And that logged-off users' information was not stored.

Even so, the fact that this snafu even exists draws some concern.

After all, all this only came to light after a blogger named Nik Cubrilovic wrote about Facebook's use of tracking cookies on September 25th. He wrote, "Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit."

Using tracking mechanisms to monitor user's movements on the web may be beneficial for companies like Facebook. That is why some analysts think that the "inadvertent mistake" may not have been inadvertent at all, according to Computerworld.

Consider this: Facebook is in the business of providing customized content toward users. Knowing a bit more about users and their interests can go a long way in generating revenue through more tailored advertisements.

Yet Facebook is completely voluntary. Nobody actually "needs" to have a Facebook account. And the information we display on our accounts are the ones we've specifically chosen to share with individuals.

Is Facebook tracking illegal? Even if Facebook does use tracking cookies, it's not the only company that does so. But if the FTC gets involved, Facebook will likely have to answer a whole host of questions in relation to its privacy-related policies.

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