Technology Scribes

Online Privacy In The Facebook Age

Privacy concerns have always dogged Facebook. Recently, after admitting that they are using tracking cookies to store a member's online browsing activities, the issue of privacy rears its head once again. 

A Quick Look At Cookies

Internet cookies aren't harmful to your computer. It is simply a code used by websites to communicate with your web browser. Cookies allow your computer to store passwords, save your preferences, and keep track of online purchases. Supercookies do the same thing, but unlike traditional cookies, supercookies are not as easy to remove from an individual’s web browsing history.

Facebook's Supercookies

Facebook has long admitted that they are using tracking cookies to ensure that the site's advertisements are tailored to the preferences of its 800 million members. However Facebook actually uses supercookies to keep tabs on member browsing activity for up to 90 days after a visit.

So what do you have to be concerned about? Privacy advocates look at this breach as a glaring intrusion on Facebook users' private lives. Given that supercookies are better equipped to collect data, there is always the concern that the site can acquire personal information and later sell it to third party parties which may use it such information in ways not authorized to users. 

What Can You Do About It?

Congress and the World Wide Web Consortium are currently discussing guidelines to govern online privacy because of this recent development. PCWorld recommends open source applications like SlimCleaner for the Windows OS, and BetterPrivacy and NoScript for the Firefox browser. All three are free for download and versions for Mac are also available.

Removing Regular Cookies

Regular cookies can be manually removed from your computer. Removal of Facebook cookies, as well as those from other websites you don't wish to store, should be stripped after each visit. Remember that deleting cookies means that you lose all the saved information pertaining to these sites, such as log-in information.

Learn how to remove cookies from the web browser you use by using the process described below.

Firefox and Internet Explorer

Regular cookies can be removed from Firefox or IE by accessing the Tools menu on top of the Internet window.

  • Click on Internet Options for Firefox, or Preferences for Mac, and then select the Privacy tab.
  • Click "remove individual cookies". A pop window should appear.
  • In the search bar of the pop-up, type the name of the website, for example; Facebook. 
  • Select the Facebook cookies you want to delete by pressing the Shift key and clicking on each cookie.
  • Click on the option to remove cookies and close the Options window.

Google Chrome

  • On the upper right hand corner of your browser screen, click on the wrench icon.
  • Click Options or Preferences for Mac
  • Click on the tab labeled “Under the Hood".
  • Find Content Settings under the Privacy section.
  • Under Content Settings, click on the Cookies tab.
  • Click on the "Delete Cookies" option.
  • Here you have the option to remove all cookies from this window with one click. To remove individual cookies, click on the site and select the cookies you want to delete from the drop-down window. 
  • You can set Google Chrome to automatically delete all issued cookies as soon as you close your browser window by clicking on the  "Clear cookies and other site data when I close my browser" dialogue box in the Content Settings.


  • Click on Preferences from the Safari Menu on top of the browser window
  • Click Bookmarks under Security
  • Switch from “only from sites you navigate" to "should be checked" under Accept Cookies.
  • From the cookies window, click on those that pertain to the sites you wish to delete, and then click Remove.

Online privacy is a sensitive issue which, if breached, carries the potential to cause tremendous harm to any web user. Take the proper precautions and stay updated about it. This is the only one way to keep your browsing history more protected.


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