Facebook bypasses browser’s anti-tracking and privacy-protecting measures

Posted 09 October 2018 14:28 CEST by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Facebook offers advertisers and publishers a new option to to track data advertisement performance and collect analytics on browsers that block tracking cookies. To protect the privacy of its users, Apple has decided to block third-party cookies in Safari. Mozilla plans to do the same in Firefox. Only cookies from the actually visited, primary domain will then be accepted.

 

This change will impact companies that use third-party cookies which are usually analytics companies and advertising networks. Facebook also sells advertisements and uses cookies to provide advertisers with data on the performance of their ads. When third-party cookies are blocked, also Facebook’s cookies are blocked and thus it can’t provide advertisers with analytics on their advertisement’s performance. Therefore, the social network has developed an solution to be able to continue to provide advertisers with performance data.

Facebook isn’t the first to come up with such an solution, Google and Microsoft use a similar method for their AdWords and Bing Ads programs. The new tracking code works by adding additional data to the link used in the advertisements.

“When a user clicks on a Facebook-served ad, a unique string gets appended to the landing page URL. When there are pixels on the site that are opted- in to share first-party cookie data with Facebook, that URL parameter will get written into the user’s browser as a first-party cookie. The pixels then include the first-party cookie with all events it sends to Facebook,” the website Marketingland explains.

This solution allows Facebook advertisers to continue to measure the performance of their advertisements. Advertisers have to specifically set an option whether they want to use first or third-party cookies for the Facebook Pixel. They have the ability to opt-out of the first-party pixel till the 24th of October, after this date the first-party cookie will be used by default. However, Facebook advertisers can change the setting at any time.


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