During weekend two interesting and important posts were written about Facebook’s new modification. Dave Winer and Nik Cubrilovic pointed out that Facebook is tracking the user’s movements around the web. This is of course nothing new. Arnold Roosendal from Tilburg University has pointed out that Facebook’s Like-button is a tool for tracking the user’s movements: you do not even need to click that button in order to be tracked.
However two new things, hidden behind the fuss created with renewing the graphical user interface emerge. The first thing, that Winer points out, is that the Facebook takes now the liberty seeking out information of your web activities and posting it to your profile. Now the Spotify integration might be the most vapid example: you listen to an artist and it is posted without your interaction to your Facebook profile. So basically you don’t get the chance to decide what is shared and what is not. Facebook does this for you.
The second interesting new thing is that you actually cannot stop this by simply logging out. According to Cubrilovic
“logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to
facebook.com. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.”
Facebook traces your activities while you are logged out from their site. Now this information is not posted to your profile but can nevertheless be traced back to you, Cubrilovic warns.
In my article “Digital Suicide and the Biopolitics of Leaving Facebook” I already argued that Facebook does not really offer or support real ways of disconnecting from their site. Logging out and deactivating the account are means which they support because they leave the user more or less within the system. Now Cubrilovic’s findings point out that logging out from Facebook does not even matter. You still provide them the information they want.
What to draw from these two findings? I would suggest that we see here a link to nonhuman turn of the 21st century. The biopolitics of Facebook is changing. Facebook is trying to suggests a social media without humans. While social media has based on user created content and data sharing we are seeing a model where we do not have to create or share intentionally. The frictionless sharing and happy accidents are part of a system that works independently. Facebook is taking the agency more and more to itself and we are just automated objects that provide it what it wants.