The Guardian reported on Tuesday that a Belgian data protection agency discovered Facebook tracks Internet browsing of users that have explicitly opted out of being followed. EU law requires sites to get consent from users to track their movements throughout the web.
Facebook does offer an opt-out choice for users that don’t want to be tracked via cookies (a file that stores a user’s settings and other information such as previous sites visited), but the report claims that opting out “places a new cookie on the computers of users who have not been tracked before.” Princeton researcher Steven Englehardt independently confirmed the findings.
Researchers also claim Facebook tracks users whether or not they’re logged into the social network and tracks people who aren’t registered Facebook users. The cookies are placed when a person visits any page within Facebook, even if the page doesn’t require a Facebook account to view it. The reason behind the tracking? Facebook uses the data to better target its advertising.
Facebook is denying the report’s claims. A company spokesperson told The Guardian: