When it comes to privacy issues, it doesn’t get much more questionable than Facebook. Regularly causing controversy for their terms of service, the website is once more upping the ante and considering monitoring cursor movements for greater data collection.
Chief of Facebook’s analytics team, Ken Rudin, said that the site is considering starting a monitoring program of user cursor movements that would allow them to collect information on what they skip over, how long cursors hover over certain links, and how much time users spend active on a page rather than sitting idle.
It is all a part of increasing collection of behavioral data that is used to make changes to the site and change marketing focus. But it isn’t hard to imagine what else they may use it for, such as selling to third parties for the sake of market analysis.
This is an especially interesting piece of news for those who already suspected they would take this leap. In 2012, Facebook acquired webcam eye tracking company Gazehawk, claiming they were poaching the staff. Obviously, they were looking to utilize such monitoring technology ideas, as well.
How useful this technology is going to be is hard to say. Other companies do use it already, and they claim many gains in their view of user behavior. But many people are now going to mobile devices for their use of social networking sites. There would be no cursor in that instance, and so it would have no real application for a fair chunk of Facebook accounts.
Is anyone really shocked by this, anymore? We already give full ownership of content the moment we create an account on Facebook. We give them the ability to sell our data to whoever they choose. We sit by while they give access to the NSA and other organizations on request, as well as other law enforcement agencies.
To those who are outraged by this move, it isn’t any more invasive than what they already do. Or what everyone on the internet has become, for that matter. There is no privacy anymore, especially from the government or corporations. The only real way to start limiting that impact is to avoid the biggest offenders and completely wipe out your social presence on the web.
Given how addicted we all are to our modern technologies, that isn’t going to happen.