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Is Facebook Tracking the Status Updates that We Delete?

Posted by Faison Zutavern on December 16th, 2013

A screenshot of the form data sent to Facebook when my first status update was deleted instead of posted, a key labeled "trigger" has a value of "censorlogger"Tonight I found myself surfing tech articles and one title immediately caught my eye: “Facebook Tracks the Status Updates and Messages You Don’t Write Too”.

The article talked about about some slightly technical information regarding how Facebook gives code to your browser to take meta data related to what you do and send it back to Facebook. We can make that paragraph much easier to read by stating the following: Facebook, like many companies, runs analytics on its site. Sure, Facebook has much more sophisticated and specialized analytics than your average business site, but they pay lots of people lots of money to make sure that they can figure out what ads to show to their users.

The original poster even talks about a software engineer and data scientist who published a paper regarding our self-censorship habits. Then brings up something about privacy implications, but I honestly don’t care about that at the moment (you can find the link to the article at the end of this post).

Is Facebook saving our deleted status updates for a rainy day?

I opened a new tab, turned on Chrome developer tools, and loaded up Facebook. When there, I typed in a test status update, waited a second, then deleted it. Sure enough, there was some network activity that shows Facebook is tracking our self-censorship!

A screenshot of Facebook with the Chrome developer tools open. A network request is highlighted showing a self-censor event being sent with metadata to Facebook.

If you’re looking for new reasons to hate on Facebook, I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t find any trace of the self-censored status update being sent. Nothing but meta data here. And the meta data seems to only contain a timestamp and the ID of the text area I deleted my update from.

So you can discuss why you think Facebook is logging this information and what the implications are, but that’s not what I’m focussing on. I just wanted to see for myself if there was anything outright scary happening here, which I don’t think there is.

But if I’m wrong about that and you have the proof, comment below and lets get the story straightened out. Until then, you might want to think twice about what you don’t what to type!

Sources: Discussion at Slashdot.comThe original article at slate.com.

If you’re interested in using specialized analytics to help keep people on your website, Orion Group has a 1st rate team that you can talk to. Get ahold of us today!

 

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