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  There were two diaries published in regards to whether Facebook is receiving your data before you hit "Post".  I signed up for a DailyKOS account to write this diary to counter all the misinformation contained in this diary (Facebook tracks what I don't even publish!" No. No, it doesn't.) All I can say is that diarist got it 100% wrong and did not disprove the other diary as he claimed. I sent him a message first to try to get him to correct the misinformation, but he did not reply. FACEBOOK RECEIVES EVERYTHING YOU TYPE ALMOST AS FAST AS YOU TYPE IT, WHETHER YOU PUBLISH IT OR NOT. I have no idea if Facebook is storing the unpublished data, but they are receiving it almost as fast as you type it.

   In fact, the easiest way to think of it for non-technical people is like the auto-complete feature in Google. As you type a search term into google, your browser sends that data to google for a list of possible matches and google returns them to you. When you type in the Facebook status update box, your browser sends that data to Facebook to look for a possible match against your list of friends names or pages you have liked. When it finds a match it will provide you a drop down box to select from so you can tag that person or page in your post.

   Follow me to the extended section for the detailed proof.

  Say I have friends named James & Jane and pages I liked for Janes Addiction and Jambase.  Facebook will build an auto complete list with those 4 entries to choose from RIGHT AFTER I TYPE JA in my status update box.  The list of 2 friends and 2 pages for me to choose from was built after my browser sent Ja to Facebook's servers.

   If I then type m  it limits my choices to James and Jambase. If instead I type in n it limits my choices to Jane and Janes Addiction. In the following example all I did was type the word New into my browser and Facebook sent my data off to the following Facebook TypeAhead/Search.php URL (https://www.facebook.com/....) with the ... representing the rest of the parameters that are not relevant to this discussion.

   As soon as I hit the W Facebook provided me the option to select "The New England Patriots." That was the only match to the word "New" in my list of friends and pages I had already liked. Facebook did return some other pages that began with "New" in the results you don't actually see, but since I hadn't liked any of those pages previously they were not given to me as options to choose. I have seen on other occasions that Facebook will show me some possible matches to pages I have not liked, but I don't know how that algorithm works.

   The following image and data was captured using the Firebug plug in for Firefox. You can clearly see the undeniable proof that my data was sent to Facebook without ever pressing post. The section with the 3 red squares are the pieces of data that was sent to Facebook and the section with the green square are the results that were returned from the Facebook Servers in the TypeAhead/Search.php Request

   One of the parameters sent to Facebook does say topics_limited_autosuggest which I think means the results in this case are just there as suggestions for the browser to use to build an autocomplete list. It could be that page is also used to query other results, but I am not sure and don't need to look into it for this example.

   Finally, it could be that Facebook permanently stores this unpublished data every time it is sent to the server. Or maybe they only save the data until you abandon the post or just until you log out of your Facebook session. I have no idea what Facebook does after it receives your unpublished data; I only know that Facebook is sending every word you type to their servers whether you publish it or not.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thanks for the technical coverage of this issue (5+ / 0-)

    i avoid facebook all the time now

    never used it much before

    the type ahead feature in google is useful .....

    •  Unfortunately, the diarist is wrong. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sir Roderick

      typeahead/search.php only gets called for words that begin with a capital letter. "Tom" brings up a list of my friends who are named Tom. "tom" does nothing; it sends absolutely no data to the server. This can be easily verified in Firebug. The statement that "Facebook is sending every word you type to their servers whether you publish it or not" is therefore absolutely one hundred percent false.

      It should also be noted that the diarist is lying about not receiving a response; his message is here and the response is here. You will notice that that comment says pretty much the same thing that this one does, which makes it doubly confusing that the diarist went on to make his error even worse by posting this diary.

  •  Counter diaries are common here (4+ / 0-)

    usually one is on the side of the status quo. Thanks for your diary. I hate those FB helps that come up when you don't need them.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:18:19 AM PST

  •  I understand (3+ / 0-)

    for every complainer Facebook is now offering 50 free "friends" if they would just walk away and forget about it.

    Suggestion for Facebook: 50 free "starter friends" automatically as soon as you sign up.

    by dov12348 on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:29:55 AM PST

  •  If the technology exists, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Johnny Q, wilderness voice

    and we know that it does exist, they will use it.  The diary posted here that said that it was not happening did not pass the credibility test.  Thank you for this diary.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:45:01 AM PST

  •  the dueling diaries is getting increasingly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bull8807, ColoTim

    hilarious. This however is far, far superior than the very first one that started this latest round of Dueling Diaries which bordered on hysteria. Therefore, have a rec.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

    by terrypinder on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:57:53 AM PST

    •  Yeah, Makes Sense, Works Like Other Searches, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrypinder

      but I won't go to FB to test it.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:03:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Hysteria," hah! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q

      I'll bet if I looked closely enough, Terry, I could find the same type of comments from you about my posts from 2008 and 2009 about our economy, and from 2011 and 2012 about our surveillance state.

      Just read my comment, a few lines down...and get back to me about my "hysteria."

      It's AMAZING how readily people attempt to assassinate characters around here if they feel the zeitgeist enables them to do so.

      I always thought of you as being more than just a lemming...obviously, I was wrong.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:33:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  cute. very American progressive. and cute. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fieldswithoutfences
        This however is far, far superior than the very first one that started this latest round of Dueling Diaries which bordered on hysteria
        is not
        This however is far, far superior than the person who started this latest round of Dueling Diaries which bordered on hysteria
        the word one, which you'll see in the first blockquote and original comment, refers to the diary. Unless your AI has finally come true and you are indeed a sentient diary writing diaries and diary comments on the Daily Kos, I'm pretty sure I was not referring to you as hysterical but the diary's content and headline. This diary didn't have that. That's why it got a rec from me  and yours did not (not that it matters). At any rate Vitamin E lotion with shea butter is great for thickening ones skin I hear. In these dry winter months, consider using it.

        Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility (not an original but rather apt)

        by terrypinder on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:44:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You are confused (4+ / 0-)

    Of course Facebook gets your characters as you type them.  That's why, when you type the word "Fred" and you have a FB friend named Fred, it can give you the little box allowing you to tag your friend, even though you haven't pressed enter.  The original story claimed that Facebook was systematically tracking self-censorship, when the actual paper described a one-time, limited research project.

    •  What could possibly go wrong? Facebook is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q

      ...your "friend!"

      As we learn from a piece from June at thewire.com (see link in blockquote, below), “About a year after Facebook reportedly joined PRISM, Max Kelly, the social network's chief security officer left for a job at the National Security Agency, either a curious career move or one that makes complete sense.”

      The Wire then informs us that, “The Chief Security Officer at a tech company is primarily concerned with keeping its information inside the company.”

      In and of itself, this is somewhat of an eye-opener; however, the following three paragraphs in the article are…well…how should I say this? Hmm…I think “alarming” might be a good word. Judge for yourself…

      Facebook's Former Security Chief Now Works for the NSA Rebecca Greenfield
      The Wire
      Jun 20, 2013 9:40AM ET

      …Facebook, among other tech companies, has distanced itself from the government, claiming it only cooperates when it is legally required to. But, "current and former industry officials say the companies sometimes secretly put together teams of in-house experts to find ways to cooperate more completely with the NSA and to make their customers' information more accessible to the agency," report the New York Times's James Risen and Nick Wingfield.

      Before Kelly — who once worked at the FBI — took the job at the NSA, he indicated a coziness with the government.

      Three weeks after leaving the network in 2010, he made a speech at the Defcon hacking conference that argued greater cooperation between places like Facebook and military defense. "Commercial entities and the military are dealing with the same problem,"  he said.

      "They should both understand their roles in the larger picture. There isn’t enough information shared." There he was more specifically addressing cyber-attacks from places like China, which as he predicted has turned into a national security issue. But, his speech also indicates that he thinks these two, at times opposed, industries should work together.

      It's unclear what Kelly exactly does at the NSA — he might have a job that has nothing to do with PRISM. Though, the Times report suggests the feds recruited him because of his Silicon Valley ties…

      To posit that Facebook will not try to "collect it all," despite laws to the contrary, after they've established a virtually pathological RECORD of invading their users' privacy rights over the past three years that is worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records, and one which would make General Alexander envious, is the epitome of political and business naiveté.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:28:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what was particularily annoying about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Johnny Q

    the prevailing attitude of that diary was almost generational in tone: we, the young and hip, were born and bred to this techonlogy; and we never expected any privacy to begin with.

    Whereas, you old farts with your quaint notions of privacy, hah !

    “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

    by ozsea1 on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:09:43 PM PST

  •  That's what all websites do . . . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, FG, Hey338Too, Catte Nappe

    Sending data to a server is nothing new. And sending data to a server and storing data in a database are two completely different things. For example, when you start typing in search terms for Google, suggested terms appear automatically, before you have completed the search.

    When you type in a password to login to a secure site, that data has to be sent to the server in order to validate that the password is correct.

    When you are registering for a user account and enter a username, sometimes you will receive an instant message saying that the username is already in use. That's because the data was sent to a server to check for duplicates.

  •  The Movement to End Facebook (0+ / 0-)

    You may have read this . . . http://www.dailykos.com/...

    Anyway, great diary!

  •  Hmmmm... (4+ / 0-)

    OK, so the FB client-side scripts send data to a typeahead lookup script server-side. That in and of itself is not suspicious. Pretty much everybody does their typeahead lookups on the server rather than in the web pages own local scripts.

    Could it be done purely client-side? Sure. But it would be a usability nightmare. You'd need everything the typeahead could possibly want to look up loaded locally with the page. Pages would take forever to load, even on a fast connection and you really dont want to see your browser memory usage trying to load a page coded that way.

    So, the question remaining is whether or not FB has "hooked" the typeahead scripts on the server to keep a log of all typeahead requests and from them build a copy of a status udate or comment that you wrote and then decided not to post. Is it doable? Yes. Have FB done it? We have no way of knowing for certain but we can maybe make our speculation a little more enlightened  by considering that in order to operate in any kind of successful manner, there are major challenges on the back end.

    The ideal candidate for a server based typeahead script would be extremely lightweight and fast, because you have to assume that this script is getting hammered with a high folume of requests. If it's doing anything more than asking the database "Give me the lookup dataset for this user that contains this string" and returning the result to the client script it's going to be too slow, because by the time a result is returned the user will have typed more characters and the request will be stale. To further mitigate this on the client side the client scripts will frequently wait for a short delay after a keystroke arrives before sending the request for a typeahead lookup, a fast-typing user will not have every keystroke generate a typeahed request.

    On balance, therefore, while FB could be doing this, the infinitesimal amount of extra data they could mine from it compared to the impact to their server infrastructure and increased complexity of code maintenance probably means they are not.

  •  Thank you! WHy do we keep giving these (0+ / 0-)

    companies the Secrete police the benefit of the doubt?

    How many times to they have to lie to us, before we get it?  

  •  You are not being honest. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sir Roderick

    As you know, you wrote the same comment to me both privately and in my diary, so I responded to it there. In that comment, I explained why you were wrong. Perhaps you didn't see it, which would explain why you wrote an entire diary compounding your error, but that doesn't mean you didn't get a response.

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