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BLOG: Facebook reveals its evil plans

Robert X. Cringely | Sept. 25, 2012
Facebook has announced it will start logging users' searches and track their real world purchases. And so it begins

The problem here is, of course, how anonymous that anonymization really is, who's doing it, and who could conceivably undo it if they wanted to. The FT story is mum on that, as is Facebook itself. Many security wonks have written about de-anonymization, but to quote my favorite, Bruce Schneier: "Anonymity is really, really hard -- but we knew that already."

It gets better. Facebook users can opt out of having their social networking activities married to real-world purchases, but they can't do it on Facebook. In fact, you'll have to search long and hard to find anything about this type of data collection on the social network that's all about sharing. If you want to opt out, you must go to Datalogix, fill out a form, and wait 30 days. And you'll have to do it for every member of your household.

Some folks may not mind having their Facebook accounts married to their Piggly Wiggly card. Hey, you might get 50 cents off on fabric softener. Other folks might mind, but can't be bothered to jump through the hoops required to untangle the Gordian knot of data that binds them to the online world.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether you trust Facebook and its advertising partners to keep your name and other personal information out of it. My advice? Don't trust any of them with your real information, if you can avoid it. Becoming a Facebook fake has never sounded better.


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