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is FaceBook spying on me?

edited March 2011
guys, just after posting my latest Action Items blog entry, I went to check on my facebook page, and the usual predictable music/entertainment adds they put in front of me were suddenly replaced with ads geared towards the maritime industry??!! (you have to check out my blog post in order to see why this is obviously creepy)

WTF? i have zero likes, friends, or any personal information on FB that would lead them to believe i was interested in the shipping business. I was, however, googling around trying to find information about a cargo ship just moments before checking my FaceBook page.

i suppose this sort of thing happens all the time, but ugh.


  • Maybe through tracking cookies they noticed your google searches?
  • "Cookies are designed to be read only by the site that provides them, not by other sites."

    This has always been my understanding of how cookies work, so it's doubtful that Facebook is somehow harvesting Google's cookies, which would probably be illegal and I don't know if it's technically possible.

    Perhaps through this method?

    "This technique does not allow sites to read your entire browser history. It only allows a site to test a predefined list of URLs to see if you have visited any of them. It’s like the card game “go fish”, you can’t see the players cards but you can ask them if they have any particular card. Most likely the way this technology would be used is to examine a list of competing URLs. This could give a website valuable information on who their competitors really are and what information on those sites is being looked at."

    Any way you look at it, it's fucking weird and ethically questionable. HOW DO THEY KNOW?
  • Oh, I guess if there were ads that cookied you on the cargo ship/maritime pages that also pay for ads on Facebook, it could work that way.
  • what is super weird is that the maritime sites i was looking at were not typical commercial sites. i almost expect a site like amazon to be spying on me, but it is hard to imagine loading my computer up with a bunch of cookies.

  • Was just talking about this kind of thing in Bananachat. I'll look at something like a piece of music gear on a shopping website, then I get stalked all around the web by banner ads featuring the thing I was looking at. TOO CREEPY.
  • "it is hard to imagine loading my computer up with a bunch of cookies."

    Trust no one. (been watching x-files)
  • edited March 2011
    So many ads on

    Cool site though. Rate the ships.
  • I went to and clicked around for a while, then logged into FB, but no marine adz! WHY NOT?
  • We got pitched at this at work. A company that tracks users if they come to your site, and then displays ads for that to them. It happens a lot with car companies and some especially net savvy companies.

    There is a name for it, but I can't remember what it is.
  • Behavioral profiling? Something like that.

    The Wall Street Journal is doing a huge ongoing report on this kind of thing. It's called "What They Know".
  • edited March 2011

    Did you guys see this
  • I've started to log in to Facebook only when using Safari's "Privacy mode" or Chrome's "Incognito" window. There are too many sites with "like" buttons and other Facebook hooks that I'm not interested in having plastered all over my "wall."
  • It's so crazy that there are lots of companies who do all this spying and information collecting/customizing and that we know so little about it and "investigative journalism" has to find out what's happening, especially when most humans use facebook everyday.
  • I keep different browsers open for different sites, then trash all the cookies upon exit (eat all the cookies?) So if you have Safari, Firefox and Chrome (IE), dedicate one to FB and FB only. Browsers commonly supply the last URL visited to the next web site you go to. The other thing I find completely annoying are Flash cookies. I have that zeroed out, but it discourages a lot of streaming video sites. We are sure to see more Flash cookie like local store schemes, as well as tracking by unique browser characteristic sets. is where the advertisers hang talking about this stuff.
  • yes facebook friend recommendations freak me out. it will seriously suggest someone who has no mutual friends or connections but i happened to meet them randomly on a cross country bus once. now that's freaky.
  • i am eating a bowl of Cheerios and i see banner ads for Cheerios!
  • I'm drinking Coca Cola and I see an ad for Coca Cola.
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