Facebook testing tech that can track your cursor movements on the site

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Activity tracker

It's bad enough that Facebook openly sold user photos and information to sponsors. Now a new privacy breach is potentially on its way as the company is testing technology that can track minute user activity, even down how a someone's cursor is behaving on the site.

Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin revealed the test during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and said the social network may significantly expand the data it collects on its users.

The tracking tech extends to measuring things like how long someone holds their cursor over a certain part of the Facebook website and whether a user's News Feed is visible on their desktop or mobile device.

Rudin told the Journal that this information could be added to the company's data analytics warehouse, where Facebook could use it to better gauge product development (like implementing a redesign) and create more targeted advertising.

Detailed privacy

Facebook collects two kinds of data, demographic and behavioral, according to the Journal. Demographics documents things like where you live or went to school, while behavioral keeps tabs on your social interactions with friends and likes in real-time.

Rudin said the info collection tests could generate burgeoning behavioral data for the social network.

The tests are part of a larger technology testing program, and it won't be for a few more months until Facebook decides whether the data makes the cut.

Naturally Facebook's plan raises issues of privacy protection, though it wouldn't be the first company to collect such small user activity info. Image repository Shuttershock uses Hadoop to analyze even the tiniest interactions, like how long a user lingers over an image before deciding to buy it.

Privacy has been a controversial topic for Facebook in the past, and the company has already settled one $20 million (about £12.9m, AU$22m) settlement over the use of Facebook users' names, photos and personal info in ads without their permission. How much protection can be afforded a cursor hover isn't as cut and dry, but we'll keep an ear out for further developments.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.