Is Facebook Violating Its Privacy Policy by Using Cookies to Track Users?


Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is currently representing plaintiffs in a case against Facebook for alleged Internet privacy violation. Upon discovering that Facebook was tracking his internet usage without his permission after he logged off, Australian Internet security professional Nic Cubrilovic found that cookies that included detailed user account information remained active as he browsed third-party websites, and that this information was being sent back to Facebook.

Facebook has publicly claimed that this tracking after a user logged out was unintentional. Yet their actions, including filing for a patent that would have allowed this activity to continue, speak otherwise. Although Facebook members are not required to pay a monetary subscription fee, membership is not free. Membership requires users to provide sensitive personal information to Facebook upon registration, including name, birth date, gender and email address, and the use of Facebook is conditioned upon the user accepting numerous Facebook cookies on their computer that track browsing activities.

Facebook generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year, largely from harvesting this user information to create targeted advertising. And because of its huge user base and use of Internet tracking technology, Facebook has created the largest private collection of personal information in the history of the world. In what will surely be a landmark case for Internet privacy, the rights and restrictions on private information are currently at risk.