Facebook has admitted that researchers have found a “bug” that mistakenly tracked people even while they weren’t on Facebook’s website, and has started fixing it.
Facebook had responded to a report prepared by the researchers at the Universities of Leuven and Brussels on the request of Belgian Privacy Commission entitled ‘From Social Media Service to Advertising Network’. The report states that Facebook gave users a false sense of control and actually made it impossible for users to truly opt out of tracking, and even tracked non-users.
Facebook’s European policy chief, Richard Allan responded in a blog post that the group of Belgian academics had reached the wrong conclusions. “The report gets it wrong multiple times in asserting how Facebook uses information to provide our service to more than a billion people around the world,” he said.
He added, “Unlike many companies, we explain how we will use this information and the controls we honor and offer. And, we apply the choices people make before using information for behavioral ads.”
He acknowledged in a blog post that the Belgian “researchers did find a bug that may have sent cookies to some people when they weren’t on Facebook." He added, “This was not our intention – a fix for this is already under way” adding that the violations were very less in number and are being addressed on case by case basis.
Facebook has been facing criticism for its privacy polices and come under investigation from European privacy watchdogs. The internet giant is battling several legal suites in Europe and the US over the way it uses users personal data sharing it with advertisers and governments. EU Legislators have recently proposed a new law that would fine companies up to 5% of annual revenue or €100 million for violating regulations about personal data.