Facebook has long had to endure difficult questions over its tracking and monitoring of user data. Privacy policies have continuously been updated and changed, and the company has come under fire from users, media, and the courts. The full extent of their snooping is not really known, however, and new information continues to leak from one source or another.
A recent study by a Facebook software engineer provides details on self-censorship – where a user types a status, comment, or other post, but deletes it without posting to the site. Whatever the aim of the report, what is really shows is that Facebook is able to monitor every time that you type details into the site, even if you delete them. Outrage is almost certain to ensue.
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has come under scrutiny for this type of monitoring deleted messages, either.
In 2011, an Australian law student requested Facebook sent him all the information that they held on him. In complying with this data request, they sent a 1,200 page document, and Max Schrems soon determined that it included data relating to information he had posted and deleted, as well as information he had not provided to the website at all. Facebook complied with recommendations on how to overcome the problem.
In 2012, users discovered that photos they had deleted on the site remained on-site, often for months, sometimes for several years. Jacqui Cheng of ArsTechnica used a fairly simple means of detection. She recorded the URL of a posted photo, deleted it, and then tracked it to see exactly how long it was before the picture disappeared. Twitter and Flickr removed images in seconds, but Facebook users had to wait years before the content was removed. Later that year, Facebook moved its photo sharing to different servers, and Cheng reported that images took no longer than two days to delete.
Although few people will really be all that interested in the actual results, the report that was published on self-censorship shows that:
• Posts are censored more than comments
• Men censor more than women
• Those with opposite sex friends censored most often
• The younger generation self-censor less often
• Those with older friends are most likely to censor posts
• Those with a diverse range of friends are most likely to self-censor
Should Facebook be able to track posts that you don’t post?
Does Facebook privacy, or lack of it, worry you?
Do you self-censor?