Concerns over Facebook’s tracking methodology and policies have been increasing ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal blew up last month, and it only got worse after Mark Zuckerberg, at his Senate Hearing last week, admitted to tracking users and non-users alike by deploying cookies and social plugins. The company uses data it collects this way to sell targeted advertising.
Now, Facebook’s Product Management Director, David Baser, has issued a clarification about the company’s tracking practices and data use. In his post, Baser reiterated Zuckerberg’s assertion that Facebook doesn’t sell people’s data, “period”. He also listed the various ways that the company gets its data about web-users, along with naming Google, Twitter, Amazon and others as also tracking users.
That includes social plug-ins like Facebook’s ‘Share’ and ‘Like’ buttons; Facebook login, which can be used to log into other websites and apps; Facebook Analytics, which lets those other services track their own users; plus other tools which let sites and apps serve and measure the effectiveness of ads.
Alarmingly, Baser says that the social media company receives data from these third-party apps and services even if the user is logged out from their Facebook account, or doesn’t even have one in the first place. According to him, “This is because other apps and sites don’t know who is using Facebook”.
Baser goes on to claim that such tracking is actually beneficial to users, because it bolsters security and prevents hacking. According to him, “If someone tries to log into your account using an IP address from a different country, we might ask some questions to verify it’s you”.
It will be interesting to see if such a ‘clarification’ will satisfy privacy advocates, seing as these practices were ruled illegal in Belgium earlier this year. According to the ruling, Facebook may be facing a fine of up to €250,000 per day if it fails to comply and stop tracking the browsing habits of the country’s citizens.