Some Of The Most Recent Apps Are Still Sharing Personal Data Of Users With Facebook

Some of the Android apps, like Yelp and Duolingo, have been sharing data of users with Facebook for ad tracking, according to Privacy International (PI), a London based watchdog group.

Apart from Yelp and Duolingo, other apps also have been sending data to Facebook that could help in targeting the audience for ad displaying. These apps include two Muslim prayers apps, Bible app and Indeed - a job search app. No exact information about the nature of data shared is identified yet except that the time when the app is opened.

Last year, a similar report by PI revealed that popular Android apps have been sending users’ data to Facebook without their permission or telling them. Last month, the Wall Street Journal also published that some of the developer tools on Apple and Android are fetching data whenever a mobile app is used and share it with Facebook, even when Apple has strict rules and regulations against privacy.

The PI report said that sending data to Facebook is not just privacy risk but also problematic for competition. Though it might sound that sending the time of when the app was sued is very basic, that is not it. The data is sent with Google advertising ID that will identify the user directly and their interests, routine and other data can be easily gathered.

The Cambridge analytics privacy scandal and other security breaches have proved to be troublesome for Facebook and the platform is doubted even more after the almost secret agreements with advertisers and apps developers are being revealed in research. The Wall Street Journal also disclosed that prominent iOS apps have been using “Custom App Events”, an analytics tool of Facebook to share users’ data related to health, fitness finances for targeted ad purposes.

Facebook has also been collecting personal data as call history, SMS and location from android devices from, not just ad targeting but also giving friends’ suggestions. This issue has been raised by many and Facebook said it would let users disable the feature if they want to.
The report suggested that Facebook has been collecting data of logged in users, logged out ones and even non-users through Business Tools of the platform. Also, app developers share their data with Facebook using Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK). 34 android apps with downloads ranging from 10 to 500 million have been caught sending data to Facebook without users’ consent.

After the PI and WS report, many of the Android and iOS apps discontinued the sharing of information with Facebook, whereas some are still practicing it. Companies like Duolingo agreed that they would stop sending data, but still not sure if any other will follow the steps or not.

On the other hand, Facebook has asked the partner apps to follow the guidelines and rules strictly and not on collective nay sensitive data. The company said they do not use any personal data like credit card numbers and rather delete it immediately.

To relate their product with Facebooks services, many of these apps rely on Facebook SDK. However, Facebook does not take the responsibility for the data collected and rather places it on other apps and say they ensure data is collected through lawful means.

PI suggests privacy-savvy users to regularly reset their advertising ID, limit ad personalization on their devices and frequently review the app permissions.

Facebook is tracking users through Android apps (even if they don't have a Facebook account)
Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

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