Major Android Apps Sending Personal Data to Facebook

Privacy International has reported that multiple major apps on Android are sending your personal data to Facebook, regardless if you have an account or not. The studies from Privacy International show that 61% of applications on the Android Play Store immediately transfer data to Facebook the moment it is opened. Some of the information being sent to the company has been deemed ‘incredibly detailed’ and sometimes even ‘incredibly personal’.

Facebook does this through a tech product they sell to other corporations called the Facebook Software Development Kit or the ‘SDK’. It is a business product that applications integrate into their coding to allows users to use their Facebook accounts, but it also allows Facebook to gather data from apps. The transmission is instantaneous, happening the moment you open the application that has this software.

Intervention

Privacy International has intervened, obliging major applications to remove or alter their code in order to stop the data transfer from happening. Major apps such as Spotify, KAYAK, and Skyscanner have updated their systems to no longer include the SDK. However, there are still applications on the market that still keep the coding in their systems. Duolingo, which has millions of users, still has it in their system which sends data to Facebook and allows Facebook to use it for ad-profiling, changing the ads that show up on your main Facebook profile and makes them specifically designed to your interests based on the data gathered through apps that use SDK.

Implications and Uses

Facebook says that the data they gather from third-party applications are safe, only being used to personalize your Facebook experience. However, this proves to be difficult when even information from individuals who do not have Facebook are being gathered. Facebook also denies allegations that the data gathered are personal, stating that they only use data that they need in order to find out the type of products that users search for. They do this in order to place similar advertisements on your timeline and make it easier for you to find what you are looking for.

Multiple people and corporations have expressed their concern with regards to the safety of their data, stating that this was not part of the terms and conditions that applications show you when you agree to use their services. Privacy International has even taken it to the next level by informing the European Data Protection Board, stating that the technology Facebook uses to gather data is an invasion of an individual’s privacy and gives them “extraordinary insight into a large share of the app ecosystem”, providing them competitive advantages.

Staying on Top

Other social media and technological corporations are even led to believe that Facebook uses this technology to gain an upper hand over its competitors. By having access to data that other applications have and being able to see data that they do not have, it allows Facebook to formulate innovations and changes that either entice non-users to download the app or convince existing users to stay on it. This lowers the advantages and capabilities of other applications to innovate because Facebook is constantly one step ahead of them.

Given the type of data being gathered by Facebook, it is difficult to determine whether its intentions were pure or have a malicious undertone. However, Facebook’s actions have caused uproar within the technological community. It has become difficult for users to have privacy, considering that every single detail of their life can be broadcasted online. If this continues to happen, even those who do not use Facebook will be at risk of their data being used for things that they do not consent to. Ultimately, only time will tell if this type of data gathering will continue to exist.

 

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