BROSWER BROTHER: Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Bloomberg
Privacy advocates are mounting a campaign against Facebook's recently announced plans to extend their harvesting of users' personal data beyond the Facebook site.
Two not-for-profit digital rights groups, Fight for the Future and the Centre for Rights, have launched a petition to demand Facebook removes those who sign from their surveillance. Over 50,000 people have already joined the campaign.
The campaign was launched shortly after Facebook announced it would track users to include information from their wider browsing history and app usage in their offering to advertisers.
An image specially created for Facebook in the pro-privacy campaign. Photo: Fight for the Future
The pro-privacy groups say it's a step too far for an organisation that has a history of being creepy with its users' data.
"Facebook said they will never use your browsing and app history to show you ads - they lied," reads the petition page. "Facebook has taken online tracking way too far on its users. With the NSA and other government agencies looking at Facebook for your personal data, our privacy is at stake."
The social media giant has over a billion users world-wide. Many know the site tracks and sells their personal data entered on the site.
The petition claims even those who don't have Facebook profiles will be affected but doesn't specify how.
Facebook collects the personal data of users to create types, such as newly single male, soccer lovers under the age of 35 who live in Sydney. This means advertisers can ensure their ads are in front of the right target markets.
Facebook has called the extended option "interest-based advertising" and are already offering the service for advertisers targeting users in the United States.
On an official blog post announcing the initiative, Facebook described the move as an extension of their current practice.
"Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this."
The post also said users will soon be able to access a drop down menu on each ad to stop seeing them.
The company is required to explain any changes to privacy policies to their users after settling several charges brought against it by the United States Federal Trade Commission in 2011, relating to its privacy practices, which it labelled as "unfair and deceptive".
Here's how to avoid Facebook tracking and selling your data
On your mobile phone and tablet:
❏ Go to Opt-Out Mobile and follow the instructions to manually locate your device and block the tracking.
❏ For Apple devices using iOS 7, you can go into settings, then privacy and then advertising. There will be an option that says "limit ad tracking". Switch the button until it's green, so this is activated
❏ On Android devices, go into Google settings, into ads, and select "op out of interest-based ads".
On your computer:
❏ Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance opt-out page to find out which companies are tracking you and to opt out
❏ Sign out of Facebook and clear your cookies on the main browser you use
❏ Select a different browser and only use it for Facebook or social media
❏ Keep in mind if you click on a link that opens up a Facebook post or page in your main browser, you'll need to clear your cookies again.