In a recent reporting, Facebook was found to be still tracking apps that Android users use, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. This includes and affects more than 61 per cent of apps and in all probability is illegal according to the new laws set by GDPR. The tracking data is being retrieved even when a person is logged out of his Facebook account. The information gets sent over the moment the user opens the app without giving him the slightest possible chance to change the privacy settings. The study was conducted by Privacy International who reported that Facebook has been tracking more than 60 per cent of apps and captured details like when the app was opened and closed, how long it was used and who used it in the first place. Owing to Google Advertising ID (AAID) which dotes heavily upon data, Facebook can easily profile such users, even if they don’t have an account.
So, for instance, if there’s someone who has been using the Indeed app, it’s most likely they are job hunting. On the other hand, if someone is regularly using an app like Qibla Connect, it is assumed that he or she is Muslim. Other such apps which have been reported being tracked by Facebook include Spotify, Kayak, Shazam, Yelp and many more. The data thus collected is being used by Facebook to profile advertising campaigns. As such, the issue doesn’t occur with the apps but has to do a lot with Facebook’s Android SDK which is being employed by the developers to make an app work.
It was only last year in June when Facebook has claimed that they have updated their SDK which would work to sent data only with the user’s consent. Although, the announcement came much later the GDPR law came into effect and was restricted to a few versions of the SDK. As a matter of fact, a large number of apps are still using the older version of the SDK which doesn’t offer the privacy feature. The update doesn’t work to disable the initialization message of the SDK that is in question right now which means that it can still send over user data. Although Privacy International was not able to determine the period for which Facebook has been doing so, owing to the nontransparent policies of the Cupertino giant, that doesn’t offer any less chance for Facebook to come up with an explanation.
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