If you’re not a Facebook user and you never had an account on this social media network, it doesn’t mean that Facebook cannot track you. Unfortunately, regardless if you decide to quite the network for good or opted not to use the network’s services, you can still be among the people Facebook tracks on a constant basis. Many people decide not to use Facebook or quit their accounts on this social media network in order to avoid sharing private data with the social media giant. So, how is it possible for Facebook to track non-users?
Well, the network manages to collect high amounts of data via numerous Android apps. In case you are using a mainstream app developed for Android devices, chances are that your personal info was sent back to Facebook.
What apps are sharing the collected data with Facebook?
According to a privacy report, apps like Shazam or Yelp allow your data to return to Facebook. So, you don’t have to be connected to your Facebook account or have one at all to be tracked by the network on a constant basis. With its Business Tools, Facebook keeps an eye on your activity almost all the time. The developers of such apps use the Facebook Software Development Kit when it comes to sharing the data their apps are collecting.
A number of 34 different apps were tested in this matter and it was found that all of them were sharing data with Facebook through the previously mentioned SDK. It is also worth mentioning that each of these apps user base was between 10 and 500 million. When it comes to the data shared by the apps, the amount varied from one app to the other.
So, if some apps shared only a part of the collected data, others shared all the data received from its users. But, according to the ones that conducted this study, the majority of the apps involved in the test shared only when they were used, when the app was opened, or when it was closed. Also, they shared whether the device was used, its location, and language settings, based on how they were set by the user.
Unfortunately, some of these apps collected data that can be placed in the sensitive information group. For example, apps used for praying, job search, period tracking for women, and those destined to be used by children, store sensitive data by simply using the app. This kind of info can, as well, end up in the hands of Facebook. Having all these in mind, Privacy International, the company that conducted this research, prompts Facebook to come up with some changes that will stop this kind of practices.
Also, the company started campaigns meant to raise awareness among the developers of such apps, so that they will end up sharing the least amount of information about users while giving them the chance to choose what kind of data can be collected. The good news is that some apps reacted immediately once notified about this aspect and decided to change the way they use the SDK provided by Facebook. Let’s just hope the rest will do the same.