Facebook Faces £180,000 a Day Fine for Tracking Unregistered Web Users

By Gary Cutlack on at

A Belgian court has ruled that Facebook needs to stop tracking people who aren't members of the site via its cookie system, lest their privacy be invaded by relevant advertising.

The social network has been given 48 hours to comply, with the court ruling allowing for a daily fine -- of around £180,000 -- to be applied, should the site's operators not agree to edit its long-standing tracking cookie rules to have it ask for consent before tracking users' internet usage patterns. Facebook argues that it's been doing this for five years so what's the big deal? and is appealing the decision. 

The news will bring much joy to patrons of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, who, according to The Local, claim that simply binning Facebook altogether makes everyone happier. Of the 1,095 Danes it experimented upon, those that avoided the site for a week reported a "significantly higher level of life satisfaction" afterwards, also feeling "significantly less angry" as a result of not being bombarded by edited highlights of other people's highly curated lives.

"If we are constantly exposed to great news, we risk evaluating our own lives as less good," explained HRI CEO Meik Wiking.

Also likely to make some privacy-hungry Europeans angry is the introduction of Photo Magic to Facebook Messenger, a system that'll scan your phone's camera roll to pick out faces it recognises -- making it easy to upload and share a photo of someone before the fake smile on their face has dropped away.