Facebook recently landed in hot water with the Belgian privacy commission over user tracking. The privacy commission’s president, William Debeuckelare, alleges that the social media giant breached the European Union’s privacy law.
The official report accused Facebook of having no regard for European or Belgian laws. The company has been tracking users for a long time now. The site tracks users who visit any page, whether or not the visitor is a registered user. Facebook can link any internet user to their browsing habits, including their identity, social networks and personal information.
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Facebook’s user tracking methods
Facebook’s third-party tracking practices give it a unique purpose, and not everyone is happy about it. The privacy commission believes Facebook should receive explicit consent from users before tracking them for the purpose of improving ad targeting. The company’s most current measures are insufficient, according to European Union standards. Privacy laws indicate that a user must consent to sharing information before a cookie can be used for tracking purposes. The only loopholes allowed include networks that require tracking information to connect to a server or to deliver a service specifically asked for by the user.
Recommendations to protect users
The watchdog group’s opinion was published after it took a closer look at a study about Facebook’s tracking technologies. According to the report, Facebook’s Like button was placed on over 13 million websites and blogs, including government sites. These buttons read tracking cookies. They also send information back to Facebook. Webmasters are recommended to set up a two-step process with Facebook plugins to keep users interacting with the social site without sacrificing their personal information.
The group also suggests that Facebook change the design of its plugins to ensure that personal data isn’t shared outside of its network. Protecting user privacy is important, and social media websites are encouraged to respect user privacy.