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Facebook user suggests site read his text messages to know he was gay

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  1. My Facebook shows sponsored adverts for Christian dating, even though I’m an atheist, because I discuss religion with my friends. FB also suggests pages on feminist issues, makeup, weight loss, animal rights and gay issues because I am female and I sign a lot of petitions. I’m not gay, but gay issues are important to me.

    The same thing happens on Twitter with spambots and corporate followers. They latch onto keywords and use your browser history to target you. That’s what cookies are all about.

    If you want to maintain your privacy, the only way to do that is to live completely off the grid – no phone, no credit cards, no computer, work cash in hand. If that’s too difficult, you just have to accept that one of the prices of modern technology is a loss of privacy. Suck it up or go live in the woods.

    1. Don’t be a dick Chaz. In 2003 I read an article that claimed that the only real luxury in the future will be privacy. I tooK the advice and keep my internet activity to a minimum. although I do like online shopping! No Fb no twitter no instagram etc. I have 5 friends who I see in the real world. FB will eat it’s self and living in the woods as you call it is actually quite nice. Making time to see the people you care about is it’s own reward

  2. facebook tracks other activity.. sorry to say mate, its most likely you looking up gay porn, reading gay news articles and commenting on gay stories that have casued these ads to appear, nothing to do with reading text messages.

    1. GulliverUK 20 Mar 2013, 9:32am

      Nope foro it really does track you. Regardless of if you do nothing whatsoever on facebook, when you go on to many news sites they have facebook bots in the page which report back to facebook what you’re looking at – that’s why I mentioned DoNotTrack+. Install it in your browser and within a few hours you’ll start to see you’re being tracked by all sorts of advertising companies, facebook, and many others. It’s just standard practice across the web.

      I don’t want to scare the crap out of you but there are 3 social networking sites and 7 companies tracking you on the main page of this article ! But that’s not that unusual.

  3. GulliverUK 20 Mar 2013, 5:18am

    You can try DoNotTrack+ although be aware that if you get some weird stuff happening, like your online banking not working properly, or not being able to use the full functionality of, say, The Guardian, when posting comments there, it is always worth turning this DoNotTrack+ feature OFF for that web site, because it can occasionally interfere.

    1. Rudehamster 20 Mar 2013, 10:27am

      That dreaded word – ‘functionality’. Sorry Gulliver.
      It makes me shudder every time I see it. It was used in the 1700’s for a very brief time but quickly superceded by the much more function & functional. It was dragged back by some US computer geek a few years ago and now it’s like a rash.
      I was once told by a hyped-up little manager-type that the “admin team could no longer provide a member of staff to take dictation because the recent financial cuts which had been rolled out, meant that they had to remove certain responsive functionalities. Perhaps we all need to think out of the box on how we are going to solve this issue”.
      I almost threw her out the window.
      It’s all meaningless management speak. The word is function, for goodness sake. Let’s all shove ‘functionality’ back up the fundament of the irritating little sods who started it.

      1. :D

        Have I hit a raw nerve? :)
        I know what you mean re management speak. It’s government speak too. I felt the same way when I heard the term “mission creep” !

      2. Christopher 20 Mar 2013, 2:22pm

        Functionality is perfectly legitimate. Consider:

        “This spreadsheet software has new functions” vs “This spreadsheet software has new functionality”.

        They’re definitely different, and as such it has a perfecly legitimate linguistic role. Language changes… unless you want to object that you can use your “mouse” to “click” on an “icon” on your “desktop” and it has nothing to do with rodents or russian religious imagery.

    2. If you use ghostery you can unblock the cookie that causes the Guardian (or any website) to not function properly, whilst all the others are still blocked.

      1. Thanks Joss ! I’ll have a look at that. :)

      2. Good tip Jess – but….
        The fewer add ons and extensions the better – en mass they can destabilise a browser.
        I’d recommend Ghostery for less advanced users, along with ‘Do Not Track Plus’ – but only as part of the steps I described in my main comment – the simple browser settings that need making. .
        For more advanced users, I’d recommend using browser Exception settings to create your own rules….and even for others – it’s not hard to learn.

        1. I share computers with my technology illiterate wife. Teaching her how to turn the PS3 off properly took me three years, so ghostery is the way forward in our household alongside adblock :)

  4. “an algorithm guessed he was gay from activity on other sites.”

    Has this kid only just discovered the internet?

    Maybe next time disable your cookies before your next porn session ;)

    1. Rudehamster 20 Mar 2013, 10:36am

      I agree totally.
      It could also be that it was just a random advert that was thrown his way. I get them all the time.
      It hit a raw nerve with him, in the same way that news articles on death hit someone who’s just had a death in the family. He overreacted and threw his buttplug out of the pram.

  5. I am constantly amazed by how naive young people are about the internet. We are being told all the time about how street wise youngsters are now. I think it is the opposite.

    They think they are streetwise when in fact they have never left their bedroom.

    The internet is like a public high street. Anyone can see what offices and shops you enter and a public library where anyone can see what shelf you are browsing.

    They confuse the privacy of their own room with privacy on the net. You either accept walking down the high street in public or switch off.

    If there are things you wouldn’t do in your local high street then don’t do them online.

  6. is this even a story? some idiot on a message board? really? Oh look, I never told anyone I secretly like soap, but one day I commented on a page about “Dove”…. the only other person I told I liked Dove was my bathroom via sms… Facebook must have read it because I got an ad for Imperial Leather in my facebook newsfeed… oh bad facebook, I feel so violated..where’s the soap!

  7. Facebook is creepy as hell. They shouldn’t be tracking information other than what you do on the actual facebook site. I hate facebook’s lack of compunctions about privacy.

    1. The trouble with that is that we are the product facebook sells to it’s consumers – advertisers.
      Agreed in every way that personal info. should never be tracked though – but they are just a drop in the ocean of tracking, just drawing more attention because they use the results on 1bn. accounts.
      See my main comment for more info. on that – and some simple measures you can tale to minimise it.

  8. Appallingly weak ‘árticle’

    Are we really expected to believe that a closeted teenager ran to the press to announce that Facebook was tracking his online activity?

    Is there no quality control at all on this site, as there is an endless stream of complete crap like this getting published.

    Dear Pink News – HIRE AN EDITOR

    1. Rudehamster 20 Mar 2013, 10:33am

      Why are you whining?
      The article is clear about what happened. It was clearly written and has a social and public interest with a gay theme. Pink News don’t just make up news articles out of thin air Stevec. It’s not a scoop, but it is an issue that is worth mentioning.
      Stop moaning and eat your breakfast.

  9. Given the regularity of Republican homophobes being caught in hotel rooms and airport departure lounges engaged in compromising situations with rent boys, maybe ‘Republican’ + ‘Bar’ should be enough to suggest gay interests to an online algorithm! ;)

  10. Robert in S. Kensington 20 Mar 2013, 11:30am

    Another reason why I’m strongly against using Facebook of Twitter for my personal and private communications. Disabling cookies can also help reduce unwanted tracking and annoying spam as well as filtering out unwanted domains in one’s email system. In this era of WiFI, that’s another way for others to track online activity. Encryption is another vehicle to keep out undesirable contacts and frequently changing passwords can help too.

  11. Chances are it as coincidental – that’s all.
    But if not, the answer’s simple – Tracking cookies etc :
    Smartphones use them too, and the vast majority of tracking is done by 3rd. parties who compile the data to pass to advertisers and companies like facebook fpr targeted advertising;
    If you have the same trackers on your phone that you have.on your computer, it’s pretty much automated.

    If you want to do your best to avoid this stuff:
    Install browser extensions and phone apps like ‘Do Not Track Plus’;
    Set browsers and equipment to ‘request no tracking’;
    Set browsers and equipment to block 3rd party cookies;
    THEN clear ALL cookies form computers, phones, stc. – this will log you out of all sites too because when you check the ‘Keep me logged in’ box, you get a cookie to save that request.

    That’s about all you can do at the moment.

  12. I was more appalled that when I set my sexuality in my profile (the day graph search was announced), I started getting adverts for poppers, lube by the gallon, spa treatments…

    I just reported the adverts as offensive and moved on with my life, I had no idea you could turn it into a media circus ;)

  13. Thank god they can’t see my RSS feeds otherwise they’d think I was a:

    anti-gay bigoted hate group, gay activist, eco warrior, religious fundamentalist, was for human rights, against human rights, for gay marriage, against gay marriage, and a militant atheist !!

    I like to follow not only our side, and my interests, but all the other sides too! :D

    Because my RSS subscriptions are relatively private and put in to categories, I can follow what I like, but on facebook, knowing others would see what I subscribe to, I would never subscribe to the page of a hate group just so I could monitor what they’re up to. So it can interfere with how you behave.

    ps. According to DoNotTrack+ I blocked facebook from monitoring me on 9,850 web sites across the web !!!

  14. Exactly why I never use Facebook.
    These sites have no right to buy and sell my habits and personal information.
    I have nothing exciting to hide, nor should I, to be concerned about my privacy rights.
    Granted, right now it’s just to direct appropriate adverts at me, but who’s to say there aren’t more sinister motives out there with access to our information?
    Especially in the next ten years or so when it will be normal for all of us to have some sort of online access to our very own DNA data.

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