According to a report published by Privacy International, major apps on Android are sending your personal data to Facebook. Worse, these apps do not require your permission for your valuable data to make it to the Facebook datacentre.
The report exposed seven Android apps that are caught up in the mess. Here, we are talking apps with millions and millions of install. The apps include Duolingo, Yelp, Indeed, Qibla Connect, King James Bible app, Muslim Pro.
Don’t have a Facebook account? Doesn’t make any difference though. The report also revealed that users who don’t even have a Facebook account are also under Facebook’s surveillance. That’s right, these apps are sending your data to Facebook even though you are not a Facebook user.
“This is hugely problematic, not just for privacy, but also for competition. The data that apps send to Facebook typically includes information such as the fact that a specific app, such as a Muslim prayer app, was opened or closed. This sounds fairly basic, but it really isn’t. Since the data is sent with a unique identifier, a user’s Google advertising ID, it would be easy to link this data into a profile and paint a fine-grained picture of someone’s interests, identities and daily routines,” the report reads.
Privacy International is a veteran player here. Prior to this, other popular apps such as Spotify, Skyscanner, KAYAK also performed a similar stunt but later ended up breaking the ties through an update. The steps were taken after the Privacy International report kicked in.
If you are familiar with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, you might be aware of the term ”Shadow Profiling.” And if you are not aware, “Shadow Profiling” is just a term to describe profiles that do not appear on Facebook for real but Facebook know about such profiles in the back end, thanks to its SDK and various other tools which pretty much all the services out there adopt one way or the other.
Long story short, if you don’t have a Facebook account., there is a good chance that you have a “Shadow Profile.” When asked about ”Shadow Profiling” the Facebook CEO dodged the question by saying he is not aware of such term. Though Zuckerberg later confirmed that Facebook collects data on people who have not signed up for Facebook for security purposes.
Now some good news. Privacy International reached out to all the seven apps and among them, Duolingo, a popular language learning app promised that it’d remove the Facebook SDK App Events component from both the Android and iOS apps in an upcoming update. This will prevent such misshapen from taking place.