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Think you logged out of Facebook? Not really, bloggers say

September 27, 2011 | 10:38 am

Facebook-logout
Think you logged out of Facebook?

Not really.

That's the clever idea behind a new button that Joshua Porter designed for Facebook. He says it's a clearer, more honest expression of what really happens when you log out of Facebook.

It's the "Logout (not really)" button. It's already so popular that traffic to his blog keeps overloading his server.

In a blog post Porter, who as an interface designer in Boston, takes these things seriously, wrote:

"At the very least, interfaces should not lie. They should not deceive the people who use them into thinking something is true when it actually isn’t.

"Apparently, Facebook does not agree. On Sunday Nic Cubrilovic posted some troubling news: Logging out of Facebook is not Enough. Facebook doesn’t actually log you out when you ask it to. They pretend to, but they don’t. Instead, they simply change the status of your logged in session to fool you into thinking you’re logged out.

"You don't see your friends or profile. You don't view your feed. Even if you try to access your profile pages, Facebook will send you to the login screen. Except that you're not actually logged out. Every step of the way Facebook knows that it’s you trying to access those pages. You're not really logged out, but Facebook is tricking you into thinking you are."

Porter is clearly not guzzling the Facebook Kool-Aid. He adds:

"In case you're wondering of my Facebook status, I deleted my Facebook account last year because of the continued pattern of bad behavior from the company…and no I’m not 100% certain the account was actually deleted."

In an interview, Porter said: "My goal is always clarity, always transparency. At this point when they have such a giant audience, the biggest of any social network ever, they should know that not everyone goes along with what Facebook does, not everyone falls in line."

Another blogger not falling into line is Cubrilovic who on Sunday accused Facebook of using cookies to track users when they are logged off from the service.

Facebook engineer Gregg Stefancik denied that the company tracked users in a comment on Cubrilovic's post. Stefancik did admit that Facebook alters -- but does not delete -- cookies when users log out. But he says Facebook does that as a safety measure, and does not use the cookies to track users or sell their personal information.

Facebook has defended using tracking cookies even after users have logged out of the service. 

In a written statement, Facebook said: "Facebook does not track users across the Web. Instead, we use cookies on social plug-ins to personalize content (e.g. show you what your friends liked), to help maintain and improve what we do (e.g. measure click-through rate), or for safety and security (e.g. keeping underage kids from trying to sign up with a different age). No information we receive when you see a social plug-in is used to target ads, we delete or anonymize this information within 90 days, and we never sell your information."

Cubrilovic, who brought this hairball to everyone's attention, has a new blog post that praises Facebook for changing "as much as they can change with the logout issue" since he alerted the company about it. But he still recommends that users clear cookies from their browser or use a separate browser for Facebook.

"I believe Facebook when they describe what these cookies are used for, but that is not a reason to be complacent on privacy issues and to take initiative in remaining safe."

And Cubrilovic isn't quite done with Facebook yet.

"I discovered a lot of other issues and interesting areas ripe for further investigation while researching the cookie logout issue - and I will be taking each one of them up on the blog here in the near future."

Stay tuned.

RELATED:

Facebook wants users to share it all

Facebook looks to cash in on user data

Is Facebook killing your privacy? Some say it already has

-- Jessica Guynn

Image: Joshua Porter

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