It’s long been known that several apps outside of Facebook’s ecosystem can and do willingly share data with the company to make it easier to reach existing and new users on the platform through ads. But, the problem has now become huge as sharing of data is possible even if the user is logged out of Facebook or doesn’t even have a Facebook account, researchers claim. While a vast majority of the apps from those caught sharing sensitive data with the social media giant have stopped sharing the information, a number of major of Android apps still continue to share the user data on Facebook.
According to a new report from the London-based UK charity and watchdog group Privacy International (PI), it has been notified that major Android mobile apps from companies including search service Yelp and language learning platform Duolingo send data that could be used to personally identify you for ad tracking straight to Facebook immediately upon logging in. In addition to Yelp and Duolingo, PI found that two Muslim prayer apps namely Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, as well as a bible app and a job search app Indeed, also sent related data to Facebook which could be used to help identify users for ad targeting purposes when they browse the social network. German mobile security company, Mobilsicher carried out a similar study which identifies that iOS versions of these apps also share user data with Facebook every time the app is opened.
Besides Ad tracking, the social media giant has been collecting sensitive user data such as contact logs, call histories, SMS data and real-time location data to improve other features on its platform like friend suggestions. This info contains a unique identifier that can help in determining users’ interests and routines.
Moreover, Privacy International clearly stated that it’s in contact with Duolingo and the company has agreed to suspend the practice, but it’s not clear how many other apps in the Android or iOS ecosystem may be dodging Apple and Google’s data-collection and user privacy policies to improve Facebook’s ad targeting tools.
In response to this, Facebook claims that it places all the responsibility on apps to ensure that the data sent to it has been collected lawfully.
It would not be wrong to say that the news raises more concerns regarding users’ privacy, given that Facebook is already dealing with a lot of security-related issues and needs to work really hard to get back users’ trust. In fact, this is also not fine news for the Android and iOS app development companies as well. It has been advised to app developers to updated their app privacy policies and no longer shares data with Facebook.
What’s your thought on this? Share your views in the comment section below.