Facebook is tracking people who don’t even have an ACCOUNT

Data from several Android apps automatically sends data to Facebook – even if the user does not have an account with the social media giant. 

Apps such as Yelp, Indeed and Duolingo automatically send user information to the company when an Android user opens the app.  

This flaw was first pointed out by Privacy International in December when an investigation found 23 popular apps all did the same thing. 

Most firms, including Spotify, Skyscanner and Kayak, have since corrected the issue but a handful have yet to rectify the privacy concern, the report claims. 

It is also believed the apps for Apple iOS devices also ‘exhibit similar behaviour’. 

Facebook and Privacy International have since had discussions in a bid to address and resolve the issues raised by the charity. 

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In lengthy blog post on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a plan to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging services – confirming previous reports that the firm planned to stitch the three together. File photo

In lengthy blog post on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a plan to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging services – confirming previous reports that the firm planned to stitch the three together. File photo

In lengthy blog post on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a plan to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging services – confirming previous reports that the firm planned to stitch the three together. File photo

The London-based charity revealed Yelp, Duolingo, Indeed, the King James Bible app and two Muslim prayer apps, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, send personal data to Facebook before users can decide whether to give consent or not. 

Privacy International claims it raised the issue with the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The charity says the data is transmitted due to the setup of Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK) – a Facebook business product that apps integrate into their code.

It is designed to automatically transmit personal data to Facebook when an app is opened.

A Facebook spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘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. 

WHAT APPS ARE ALLEGEDLY SENDING FACEBOOK DATA OF NON-USERS?  

This flaw was first pointed out by Privacy International in December when an investigation found 23 popular apps all did the same thing. 

Users log in and information is automatically sent to Facebook before a user can give, or not give, their consent. 

All the apps tested by London-based charity Privacy International have millions of installs. 

They are:  

  • Yelp
  • Indeed
  • Duolingo
  • King James Bible 
  • Qibla Connect
  • Muslim pro 

‘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.’

Under GDPR legislation, the legal obligation for processing third party app user information lies with the app developers.  

The charity argues that the types of app and how often they are opened, which is all that is transmitted, can be used to paint a ‘fine-grained picture of someone’s interests, identities and daily routines’.

Privacy International has said it is urging the apps to fix this issue and also encouraging Facebook to change the default setting so this doesn’t occur. 

Language-learning app Duolingo says it will be issue a software update it its next release on both Android and iOS to remove the Facebook SDK App Events component. 

‘Duolingo thanks Privacy International for their important work raising awareness of this issue,’ a Duolingo spokesperson told Cnet.  

‘As part of our ongoing commitment to privacy, we are removing the Facebook SDK App Events component from both the Android and iOS apps in the next version releases.’ 

Yelp claims the allegations levied against it are unfounded. 

Zuckerberg is now promising to apply the same privacy principles it used in WhatsApp to all of its services moving forward. File photo

Zuckerberg is now promising to apply the same privacy principles it used in WhatsApp to all of its services moving forward. File photo

Zuckerberg is now promising to apply the same privacy principles it used in WhatsApp to all of its services moving forward. File photo

A spokesperson told MailOnline that its Android app ‘does not also send personal data to Facebook at launch.’

‘Yelp runs ad campaigns for its apps on Facebook. To do this, when launched Yelp’s Android app may transmit a device’s anonymous advertising ID to Facebook. 

‘This use is described in Yelp’s Privacy Policy and Android users can, at any time, choose to deny access to the advertising ID through Android settings. 

‘Contrary to this report, Yelp’s Android app does not also send personal data to Facebook at launch.’  

This is the latest scandal for Facebook in a string of privacy concerns. 

Mark Zuckerberg announced just yesterday the company’s intention to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging services. 

This, it says, is a the first step in Facebook shifting toward a ‘privacy-focused’ future. 

The Facebook boss acknowledged the site’s reputation, which has been tarnished in recent years as a result of its lax-approach to the protection of its users’ information, and promised to rebuild its services on the principle of privacy.

Zuckerberg also said he’s working to ensure your online activity won’t come back to haunt you later in life.

Ultimately, the CEO says the firm is striving to make interactions across Facebook ‘a fundamentally more private experience.’ 

FACEBOOK’S PRIVACY DISASTERS

December 2018: Facebook comes under fire after a bombshell report discovered the firm allowed over 150 companies, including Netflix, Spotify and Bing, to access unprecedented amounts of user data, such as private messages.

Some of these ‘partners’ had the ability to read, write, and delete Facebook users’ private messages and to see all participants on a thread. 

It also allowed Microsoft’s search engine, known as Bing, to see the name of all Facebook users’ friends without their consent.

Amazon was allowed to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and Yahoo could view streams of friends’ posts.

As of last year, Sony, Microsoft, and Amazon could all obtain users’ email addresses through their friends.

September 2018: Facebook disclosed that it had been hit by its worst ever data breach, affecting 50 million users – including those of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users.  

Facebook says it has found no evidence 'so far' that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)  

Facebook says it has found no evidence 'so far' that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)  

Facebook says it has found no evidence ‘so far’ that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)  

The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done.

The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems. 

Facebook said it doesn’t yet know if information from the affected accounts has been misused or accessed, and is working with the FBI to conduct further investigations.

However, Mark Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.

As a result of the breach, the firm logged roughly 90 million people out of their accounts earlier today as a security measure. 

March 2018: Facebook made headlines earlier this year after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. 

The disclosure has prompted government inquiries into the company’s privacy practices across the world, and fueled a ‘#deleteFacebook’ movement among consumers. 

Communications firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.

‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.

The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.

This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.

It has also suffered several previous issues.

In 2013, Facebook disclosed a software flaw that exposed 6 million users’ phone numbers and email addresses to unauthorized viewers for a year, while a technical glitch in 2008 revealed confidential birth-dates on 80 million Facebook users’ profiles.  

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