Facebook still tracks you even if you don’t have an account, courtesy of a handful of apps like Yelp, Indeed, Duolingo etc. Facebook had come under fire in December 2018 when Privacy International, UK-based charity found 23 popular Android apps including Spotify sharing their users' data with Facebook. Thankfully, most of these apps have fixed the issue. But as per a new report, a few Android apps still share users’ personal data to Facebook without their consent.
Popular apps like Yelp, Duolingo, King James Bible, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro share your private information like when users open or close these apps, without their consent. All these apps have millions of installs. Select iOS apps also bear a similar problem, according to mobilsicher.de study.
The data shared by these apps include information when users open or close a particular app, which could be problematic for two reasons: Privacy and competition. Given the fact that the data shared by these apps include a user’s Google’s advertising ID, it can be linked to your personality model to paint a broader interest of your interests, daily routine etc.
Last year, Cambridge Analytica data scandal revealed how users’ data such as likes on Facebook posts were used to meddle with the 2016 United States presidential election. It could also benefit from crucial app usage insight obtained from this kind of data. Recently, it was discovered how Facebook used its Onavo VPN app to collect usage data on competitors.
Privacy International has raised the issue of third-party tracking on apps with the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor. They have also contacted Facebook and requested them to change the default behavior of Facebook’s SDK that apps integrate into their code.
“Facebook's SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances. We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users' information. Finally, we provide guidance to developers on how to comply with our requirements in this regard,” Facebook told DailyMail.
Update (March 9, 2019 / 10.43AM): Hours after we published this story, Yelp reached out to us with a clarification. Yelp has denied PI's allegations that the app shares users' data with Facebook.