In April, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the two congressional committees to testify about various issues including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Ad practices, privacy, and more. It seemed as if the CEO got roasted during the testimony, but there were many lawmakers left with unsatisfactory answers.
Now, after almost two months, the company has published a 450-page Q&A document (1,2) with detailed but carefully framed answers to the questions provided by the Senators in writing. In the meantime, Facebook was in the news for reports of sharing user data with 60 device makers and accidentally setting audience selector settings of over 14 million users to Public.
One of the big questions many would want to know is what data Facebook collects from people’s devices. Facebook said it collects stuff like information about the software and hardware for the device, unique identifiers, GPS location, info about Bluetooth signals and nearby WiFi APs, IP address, etc. It also tracks device operations like whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, and mouse movements to distinguish humans from robots.
When asked if Facebook collects every IP address ever used when logging into Facebook, it said users could download a list of tracked IP addresses using the Download Your Data tool. However, historical data may not be available as it gets deleted per the “retention schedule.”
Facebook has been accused of maintaining “shadow profiles” of non-facebook users and tracking them. The company stood on its earlier stance that it doesn’t “create profiles or track website visits for people without a Facebook account.”
The company may take the opportunity to display a general advertisement that’s unrelated to the attributes of a person or an ad encouraging a non-user to sign-up for Facebook, it said.
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Facebook has also come up with the answer to the question that left Mark Zuckerberg’s tongue searching for names during the testimony: Who are Facebook’s competitors? The company has named more than a dozen competitors, given its broad range of product offerings. These include Google, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, Snapchat, Pinterest, DailyMotion, etc.
Facebook said it represents only 6% of the $650 billion global advertising ecosystem. It even considers billboards and print media as an alternative.