How websites can track your internet use - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

How websites can track your internet use

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

People want to know how websites like Facebook can track their internet use even when they're not signed into the site.

A Paducah man wants to take Facebook to court, accusing them of violating wiretap laws by using a tracking cookie that records your web browsing history.

Similar suits have shown up in Kansas, California, and Louisiana.

So how does this work?

Computer expert Andrew Bard says numerous people think it's an active program or virus sending information back to the company that wants it. But he says that's not what cookies are.

"Cookies don't do anything, you have to read them," said Bard. "Essentially, again like a Word document. A Word document doesn't do anything, it's got no function, it's just there for reference."

Bard says most likely Facebook has some sort of partnership with other websites that can send them information saying you viewed their website through the cookies.

"When you go to pretty much any website they're going to throw a cookie on your machine," said Bard. "And what that is, is for personalized stuff. It's so the website can identify not necessarily that it's you, as in Andrew, but as in PC-xyz, and PC-xyz likes their news on the left, and their weather on the right. So that's the way I'm going to make it based on that cookie, and those settings for that machine."

Bard says the reason this lawsuit might be different than previous ones is that Facebook doesn't know you as a random computer number, but as a name, your Facebook username.

You can turn off your cookies, but Bard says that means some websites won't work because it turns off all personalization.

He does suggest that you delete your cookies by going to "Internet Options" on your computer and simply clicking delete.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly