Say What? Facebook Can See What You Type Even If You Don’t Post It

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 18 2013 11:17 AM
We won't make fun of you if you decide to don a tinfoil hat, not anymore. A few years ago you might have looked pretty silly wearing one and been the butt of jokes, but these days privacy is no laughing matter, even if companies and our own government treat it like a joke. There's the whole NSA/PRISM thing, but did you know that Facebook can see statuses and comments you type even when you don't publish them?

It's true and Facebook even confirmed it's able to track unpublished posts after a pair of researchers disclosed they had tracked the activity of around 5 million random Facebook users, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study focused on how often users would censor themselves while typing up comments or status updates. After typing more than five characters, the content started being tracked.

"This is something we looked at to understand to what extent people self censor," Facebook said.

Facebook
Image Source: Flickr (Franco Bouly)

As part of the study, Facebook claims it didn't track the words or letters its users typed, just whether or not they typed something. If a post was not published within 10 minutes of being typed, Facebook considered it to be self-censored. Furthermore, Facebook says the tracked users were kept anonymous for the study.

Beyond the study, which is now complete, Facebook says it doesn't (and has no plans to) track unpublished posts. What's frightening is that it can, and Facebook claims it's within its right to do so because of an entry in its Terms of Service (ToS) in the Data Use Policy section:

"We receive data about you whenever you use or are running Facebook, such as when you look at another person's timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things," the policy reads.

Don't like it? You can either abandon Facebook or turn JavaScript off.

Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr (_Max-B)
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sevags replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 12:13 PM

I abandoned FB 18 months ago and never looked back! My life is so much better for it.

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I never laughed at the tinfoil hatters, but now who's laughing?

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 12:52 PM

I envy you. I tried to give it up once, but then I found myself out of the loop about nearly everything (not just family/friends stuff, but general news I wouldn't have caught onto otherwise).

Still, Facebook is driving me bonkers. Just yesterday we learned of auto-playing video ads... and now we see it can tell when we are about to post, but don't. Talk about overstepping boundaries. I wish the world en masse would abandon the service... but it won't happen. Most people don't care about such invasions, it's that simple =/

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So all those times I told FB to kiss my ass but never posted it, can still be seen?

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they could have been doing this on any site for as long as computers have existed... it shouldnt be even remotely surprising. but the fact that they DO is whats messed up

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sevags replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 1:35 PM

RWilliams; what news do you hear on FB that you wouldn't otherwise hear? Between news websites, HH and Dailytech, radio, standard television news, and the likes of Steven Colbert and John Stewart there isn't any news FB can provide me that isn't trivial. Sure I might find out about things like Paul Walkers death within 15 minutes of the event on FB but I found out through traditional channels 30 minutes after it happened any way. 

As for family I only ever had 2 of my cousins added, why would I want to add family it isn't like FB is a linkedIn page it is filled with my friends and I saying and uploading not the most appropriate things lol. As for friends, anyone I care to keep in contact with I see in person or txt I don't need my conversation to be public.

Everyone should really move on... I still have a "dummy" FB account that I use for things like Liking pages for HH sweepstakes etc but I don't have any friends added to it. I also use the normal login here at HH rather than the FB one.

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RWilliams replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 1:46 PM

I have a lot of tech friends on Facebook, so I often see things talked about there before I do other places. As for conversing with people on Facebook, I tend to agree there. I do talk to people on a regular basis in private on Facebook, but never in public (because I find that ridiculous... why would I want other people to see my conversation?). As for seeing news quicker through Facebook, I kind of appreciate that, but that assumes I go on Facebook constantly, which I don't.

Most people I know use Facebook as their primary means of communication, so I am basically stuck with it if I expect to hear back from anyone quickly.

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"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander on the keyboard when you were in any public place(internet) or within range of a telescreen(webcam/mic). The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself, not voting collectivism/socialism--—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide, of being yourSelf instead of the 'collective'. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your Face(book)… was itself a punishable offense. There were even words for it in Newspeak: Facecrime, Unsearchablecrime, Anonymitycrime, realmoneycrime and now... Typingcrime…"

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SmogHog replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 6:59 PM

OK,spammer zapped.

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sevags replied on Wed, Dec 18 2013 7:19 PM

Most people I know use Facebook as their primary means of communication, so I am basically stuck with it if I expect to hear back from anyone quickly.

Primary means of communication!?!?!? what kind of people do you know!! I will be your friend Rob and call you on your cell to talk LOLLLL. I don't know many people who are obsessed with FB anymore and even those who log on throughout the day every day are also glued to their cellphones which is usually their main way to get on FB so when I txt I get a quicker response than if I messaged on FB even if it is only 30 seconds faster LOL.

The tech side of things I can see! Since this is what you do I imagine you and your friends might post certain techie things on your FB's before we at HH get an article for it hehe. For shame :)

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Kite-G replied on Thu, Dec 19 2013 3:20 PM

damn. i was trying to make the switch to Google+ but now im not just gonna "try". ill do it right away.

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