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Facebook Wants to Track Your Mouse Cursor

By Alexis Kleinman

Facebook has a knack for angering people with its privacy policies. The site already gathers and does god-knows-what with your pictures, private messages and more. But it still wants more information — including what, exactly, you’re doing with your mouse.

Facebook is working on new technology to track people’s behavior on the site, including where and when your mouse cursor hovers, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The WSJ spoke to Facebook’s analytics chief Ken Rudin, who said that Facebook is working on a “massive increase” in the amount of data Facebook collects about users’ behavior — everything from mouse movement to when the Facebook app is open on your smartphone. All of this is in the name of targeted advertising and an improved user experience.

Scared? For now, Facebook is just testing out this technology and hasn’t decided whether it’s going to really use new tracking tools yet.

But Facebook is certainly not alone. In fact, mouse tracking is pretty widespread. For example, as the WSJ points out, the image site Shutterstock “records literally everything that its users do on the site.” Perhaps due to Shutterstock’s relatively small size (compared to Facebook) there isn’t as much talk about that company’s privacy policies.

Bigger companies are doing similar stuff. Google a few years back patented the idea of arranging search results based on a user’s mouse movements. A couple of people responsible for how Netflix targets its recommendations to customers revealed to Wired last August that they track every move people make on the site, including curser movement and scrolling.

Sure, Facebook is looking to use your information to create ads, and Netflix to give you helpful personalized tips, but tracking is tracking, and these sites are tracking you all the time.

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