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In what could make things worse for Facebook, a new research has found that the social media giant tracks the data of even those Android users who do not use the company app. The findings of the research, conducted by UK-based charity Privacy International, once again raises questions on how the social media companies attack the privacy of its users as well as those who are indirectly connected to them.
Facebook routinely tracks users, non users and logged out users outside its platform, said the study by UK-based charity Privacy International (via IANS). The findings showed that the app developers share data with Facebook through the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK), a set of software development tools that help developers build apps for a specific operating system.
According to the study, at least 61 percent of apps that were tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. “This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not. In our analysis, apps that automatically transmit data to Facebook share this data together with a unique identifier, the Google advertising ID (AAID),” the research said.
For the study, Privacy International said that it examined 34 apps on Android, each with an install base from at least 10 million to a maximum of 500 million. The apps included language-learning tool Duolingo, travel and restaurant website TripAdvisor, job database Indeed and flight search engine Skyscanner, among others, the research said. All apps were tested between August and December 2018.
In a response to the findings, Facebook reportedly said that sharing data is “common practice for many companies” and is useful for both users and the companies involved. “This information is important for helping developers understand how to improve their apps and for helping people receive relevant advertising in a privacy-protective way,” The Independent quoted Facebook as saying.
“We do this in a transparent manner by explaining the practice through our Data Policy and Cookies Policy, and by using Google's advertising identifier, which can be controlled centrally by people using their device settings,” the social media giant was cited as saying. Facebook got embroiled in a scandal wherein a British data firm called Cambridge Analytica was found to be improperly gathering information of 87 million users.