No longer. Last week, Facebook announced it will start using its Like button and similar tools to track people across the Internet for advertising purposes.
Here is the long history of the revelations and Facebook's denials:
April 21, 2010 2013 Facebook introduces the "Like" button in 2010 at its F8 developer conference. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declares that it will be "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the Web."
He says his goal is to encourage a Web where all products and services use people's real identity. He suggests, in fact, that creating a personally identifiable web experience could be divine: "When you go to heaven, all of your friends are all there and everything is just the way you want it to be," he says. "Together, lets build a world that is that good."
Nov. 30, 2010 2013 Dutch researcher Arnold Roosendaalpublishes a paper showing that Facebook Like buttons transmit data about users even when the user doesn't click on the button. Facebook later says that Roosendaal found a "bug."
May 18, 2011 - The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets collect data about users even when they don't click them. Facebook's chief technology officer says, "we don't use them for tracking and they're not intended for tracking."
Sept. 24, 2011 2013 Veteran tech blogger Dave Winer writes that " Facebook is scaring me" with its apps like the social reader, which can automatically share stories you read. This "kind of behavior deserves a bad name, like phishing, or spam, or cyber-stalking," he writes. Winer recommends that users log out of Facebook to prevent being tracked on other websites.
Sept. 25, 2011 2013 Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic writes that " Logging Out of Facebook is Not Enough." He shows that Facebook is tracking users even when they log out of the site. Facebook responds that it is fixing the issue so people won't be tracked when they are logged out of Facebook.
Sept. 27, 2011 2013 Facebook tells the New York Times that it doesn't use data from Like buttons and other widgets to track users or target advertising to them, and that it deletes or anonymizes the data within 90 days.
Oct. 1, 2011 2013 Blogger Michael Arrington digs up a Facebook patent application for "a method 2026 for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain." The title of his blog post: " Brutal Dishonesty."
Dec. 7, 2012 2013 As the Wall Street Journal finds that Facebook Like buttons and other widgets appear on two-thirds of 900 websites surveyed, the company says again it only uses data from unclicked Like buttons for security purposes and to fix bugs in its software.
June 12, 2014 2013 Facebook tells Ad Age that it will start tracking users across the Internet using its widgets such as the Like button.
It's a bold move. Twitter and Pinterest, which track people with their Tweet and PinIt buttons, offer users the ability to opt out. And Google has pledged it will not combine data from its ad-tracking network DoubleClick with personally identifiable data without user's opt-in consent. Facebook does not offer an opt-out in its privacy settings.
Instead Facebook asks members to visit an ad industry page, where they can opt out from targeted advertising from Facebook and other companies. The company also says it will let people view and adjust the types of ads they see.
We contacted Facebook to ask them about their tracking habits. They didn't respond.