Skip to main content

Facebook officially hits stalker mode, wants to watch your cursor movements

facebooks year review crazy football pope francis disneyland 2013 facebook mouse pointer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

According the Wall Street Journal, Facebook intends to experiment with brand-new technology that will allow it to get to know even more about their users. If you thought it was bad enough that the company knows what sort of sites you visit outside of Facebook in order to provide you with targeted ads, now know that the social network wants to start monitoring what you like best inside of Facebook, based on how long your cursor hovers over a particular space. That’s right: cursor-tracing tech is likely on its way to Facebook. 

“The social network may start collecting data on minute user interactions with its content, such as how long a user’s cursor hovers over a certain part of its website, or whether a user’s  News Feed is visible at a given moment on the screen of his or her mobile phone,” Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin revealed to The Wall Street Journal.

The most popular social media site on the planet already has a near infinite amount of data on its users to begin with, but it always wants to know more. Still, the idea that Facebook wants to track your real life movements via the mouse definitely might be cause for a gut check on what users feel is too intrusive. 

But before you feel too violated, there could be a positive side to this. Facebook likely wants to use this software not only to track ads you click on or other marketing-related activity, but to try and fix it’s  News Feed. Maybe it will be able to find ties between the types of content you’re blocking, or figure out that you want to see photos in chronological order – and not constantly resurfaced because of new comments weeks later. There are plenty of complaints about its current algorithm, so perhaps this will really be the best way to try and amend the situation.

Of course, such an experiment could easily have holes. Just because I hover and click over someone’s photo of an adorable puppy doesn’t mean I’m interested in more photos from said person (who may or may not have the tendency to overdo her baby coverage). And just because I happen to leave my cursor hanging over an ad for a Japanese dating Sims game to go cook some lunch, doesn’t mean I’m into Anime. Or dating. Or Facebook games. I might have just gotten distracted and left the room entirely. There are plenty of “what ifs” here.

And there’s also the fact that you might not want anyone or anything – including Facebook, which hoards data like a bag lady keeps old newspapers – to have reconnaissance of what your mouse is clicking on inside the social network. There’s no privacy setting that can fix that. 

Editors' Recommendations

Jam Kotenko
Former Digital Trends Contributor
When she's not busy watching movies and TV shows or traveling to new places, Jam is probably on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or…
Facebook starts rolling out Dark Mode feature to iOS devices
Facebook Russia

Facebook's Dark Mode has started rolling out to iOS devices, more than a month after the feature went live for the social network's desktop version.

Facebook confirmed with SocialMediaToday that Dark Mode is now available for the social network's iOS app, but currently only for "a small percentage of users globally."

Read more
Facebook News just expanded. Here’s how to customize your news tab
facebook news tab local launches

After launching tests to limited locations in the fall, Facebook’s dedicated news tab now houses local news for users in the U.S. Moving from testing to an official product this spring, Facebook introduced local news into the new tool. Facebook News houses journalism exclusively from a list of vetted sources while using algorithms to personalize the news that each user sees.

The Facebook News tab comes as social networks face increasing scrutiny for handling of fake news. Publishers on the new dedicated tab are selected based on “integrity signals” which Facebook developed with journalists to determine what publishers to include. The list is designed to eliminate publishers that share fake news and clickbait. The tab is partially determined by algorithms and part human curators, with journalists selecting the top stories listed in the first subsection of the new tab.

Read more
Facebook redesign goes live for everyone, adds Dark Mode
facebook desktop update dark mode facebookdarkmode logo

Facebook has finally rolled out its desktop redesign for all users, with features including a new Dark Mode.

The new finally brings dark mode to desktop users, minimizing screen glare in low-light environments and improving the experience in viewing videos on Watch. The redesign had rolled out for some users earlier this year.

Read more