Facebook is able to collect data from people who have never registered on the social network, and also from its users even if they are disconnected. This is what the report by the British NGO Privacy International, released last Sunday (30) during the 35C3 technology conference, affirms. According to the survey, some applications installed on Android phones send the data to the social network. From this information, Mark Zuckerberg's company can draw a profile of the smartphone owner.
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Collecting data from non-users enters the list of policies that question the transparency of Facebook Photo: Luciana Maline / TechTudo
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Privacy International claims that this information sharing takes place from the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK). Also known as devkit, the SDK is a set of pre-recorded development tools and codes that can be used by developers to create applications on a particular operating system. For example, the Facebook SDK can provide the alternative Login with Facebook as a form of authentication in an application, in addition to offering Analytics (data, trends and aggregated insights) of the public that interacts with the app.
The report evaluated 34 applications available on Google Play, each with an average of 10 to 500 million installations, from August to December 2018. According to the report, at least 61% of applications automatically transfer data to Facebook at the time where the user opens the app. This happens even if the person has never registered on the social network, or even if the user is currently logged out.
From this group of users, information is collected such as: the use of the application and each time it is accessed, in addition to the type of device used and its approximate geolocation, based on language and time zone settings. Popular music apps, like Spotify and Shazam, travel apps like TripAdvisor and Skyscanner, and studies (Duolingo) are among those that share user data.
Report denounces that Facebook tracks users through Android apps Photo: Melissa Cruz / TechTudo
If combined, data from different applications can provide a refined and intimate picture of people's activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal data from special categories, including information about health or religion, Privacy International said in report. For example, a user who installed the following apps that we tested Qibla Connect (Muslim prayer app), Period Tracker Clue (menstrual cycle logging app), Indeed (job search app), My Talking Tom (kid app), I would potentially be described as a woman, Muslim, mother and job seeker.
The reason why we focus on Facebook, and Google or any other tracking companies, because the fact that apps like a menstrual cycle recorder or an LED flashlight share data with Facebook comes as a surprise to many people, especially those who decided not to be part of the Facebook community, said Frederike Kaltheuner, researcher at Privacy International , during the 35th edition of the Chaos Communication Congress (35C3).
The report also indicated that some applications routinely report on the social network. As there is no transparency on the part of Facebook, it is impossible to know with certainty how the data we describe in this report is being used, attested Privacy International.
Facebook can create user profiles from installed applications Photo: Nicolly Vimercate / TechTudo
In April 2018, Facebook had already admitted that it collects non-user data. The statement followed Mark Zuckerberg's clarifications to the US Congress, mainly due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to Facebook's Director of Product Management David Baser, the social network tracks data from disconnected and non-user users for three reasons: providing services directly, keeping Facebook information secure and improving the company's products and services.
When you visit a website or application that uses our services, we receive information even if you are logged out or do not have a Facebook account. This is because other applications and sites do not know who is using Facebook, wrote the Director in a statement on the social network's blog. Among the services mentioned by Baser are social plugins (like buttons to like and share), the Facebook Login feature and the Facebook Analytics and Facebook Ads tools.
Facebook stated that the team of developers is responsible for data collection Photo: Aline Batista / TechTudo
In response to Privacy International, the social network stressed that the responsibility for configuring the SDK rests with the developers. Developers can choose to automatically collect events, not collect them in general, or extend the collection until the user consents, depending on their particular circumstances, Facebook wrote. The Zuckerberg platform recognized, however, that most developers use the standard SDK settings, that is, the immediate sharing of information as soon as the application runs.
It is worth mentioning that in June 2018, Facebook launched a new feature in its SDK that delays the so-called automatic event login ", which gives developers more flexibility to disable the feature or request permission from the user to collect data. However, even With the changes made by Facebook, the SDK continues to report a signal when applications are opened, even if SDK data sharing is disabled.
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