Facebook's misleading "log out" button and the future of privacy legislation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Activism Director Rainey Reitman has an in-depth analysis of how Facebook continues to track its users even after they've taken several affirmative steps to log out of the service, and how this may interact with eventual privacy legislation.

This newest privacy snafu could prod legislators into moving on one of the many online privacy bills that have been introduced this year. Users’ unease with the quickly-evolving technical capabilities of companies to track users, combined with the abstruse ways in which that data can be collected (from social widgets to super cookies to fingerprinting), has resulted in a growing user demand to have Congress provide legal safeguards for individual privacy when using the Internet.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook hopes that its brand of data collection through ‘like’ buttons won’t be subject to federal regulation. According to AdAge, Facebook sent an “army of lawyers” to Washington to convince Senators McCain and Kerry to carve out exceptions to their recently introduced privacy bill so that Facebook could track their users via social widgets on other sites (dubbed the "Facebook loophole"). But while Kerry and McCain may have acquiesced to Facebook's requests, Senator Rockefeller did not. He introduced legislation that would empower the FTC to create rules around how best to protect users online from pervasive online tracking by third parties.

Facebook seems keen to influence future legislation on these issues. They recently filed paperwork to form a political action committee that will be "supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected."



  1. Speaking of social tracking… Yesterday I was listed as having 30 or 40 comments (I cannot remember the exact number) and 80+ likes received. Today it says I’ve posted 95 comments and have 3 likes.

  2.  Now I have 20 comments and 95 likes… How are we going to achieve the “Bitchun Society” when we can’t properly track this stuff?

  3. The interesting thing about this stance by Facebook is that it seems to assume that Facebook users love Facebook and would take their side. With a billion users, that would be pretty strong. But I think the truth is that Facebook is the necessary evil of Facebook in the majority of users’ minds.

  4. I don’t have a FaceBook account. I’ve never visited FaceBook’s site. I’ve never followed a FaceBook link. I’ve never clicked a “like” button. I have AdBlock Plus installed on my FireFox (the Auroa version) and various other plugins and anti-spyware and privacy protection’ware installed. I may very well be the only person in the world that FaceBook has no info on.
    Probably not, but one can hope.

  5. I ‘ended’ my Facebooking over a year ago.

    And I know they have all my info sitting in some server somewhere; and while it’s not That incriminating…still:

    the only thing more worrisome than Mark Zuckerberg gaffling my faux-life, is the thought of the Federal Government mucking around with draconian and/or ineffectual legislation to ‘protect’ me.

  6.  If they get a law passed to allow Facebook tracking, how long before they get a law passed REQUIRING a Facebook account? Facebook would like to be the ubiquitous login for the Intertubes.

  7. I log off of facebook by closing Firefox, poof go all the nasty cookies, history, etc.!  I can also just hit the CLEAR ALL DATA  button too instead.

  8. This is really dangerous. Any regulation on the web leads us further away from net neutrality. If you are on the internet, privacy is impossible. The sooner people realize that the better.

Comments are closed.