Android users without Facebook app still on social network's radar: Study

Android users without Facebook app still on social network's radar: Study
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
4 Jan, 2019

A study led by UK-based charity Privacy International has showed that Facebook still manages to track Android users who don't have the company's app installed on their smartphone or smart devices.

The study claims that the social network has the means to track users not registered on the platform or who haven't logged out of their accounts. The study's findings assume significance especially after Facebook gained the ire of users and governments due to the Cambridge Analytica imbroglio.

According to the report, users are tracked via other apps which ask them to sign up via Facebook or have the social network's software development kit (SDK) embedded. Developers use SDKs when building apps.

A IANS report claimed that the Privacy International study had examined 34 apps on Android which at least had an install base ranging from 10 to 500 million between August and December 2018. Some apps that the study looked at included Duolingo, TripAdvisor, Indeed and Skyscanner.

Further, detailed findings of the study show that these individual apps share data with Facebook as soon as a user logs on to these apps every single time.

"This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not," the news agency reported the study as stating.

"In our analysis, apps that automatically transmit data to Facebook share this data together with a unique identifier, the Google advertising ID (AAID)," the researchers were quoted as saying. 

When the research findings were presented to Facebook, the company said that sharing data between companies was a common practice.

"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," Facebook was quoted as saying.