Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the congress confirmed the somewhat known fact that Facebook collects data of non-users. Yesterday, the social networking giant dropped a blog post to clarify what data is collected off-Facebook and how it’s used.
Facebook said it scoops people’s information outside their network, regardless of whether one has a Facebook account or not. That’s because the apps and sites don’t know who is using Facebook.
It’s done on websites and apps via social plugins such as Like and Share buttons, Login with Facebook button, Facebook Analytics, and Facebook ads and measurement tools. The company receives data like IP address, cookies, and information about the browser and operating system.
However, Facebook didn’t forget to mention that other internet giants including Google, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., have similar Like and Share buttons on third-party sites and offer advertising services. The company points out that Google has an analytics service, and Amazon, Google, and Twitter offer login features.
Facebook said that “most websites and services send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.”
The data collected is used to improve safety on Facebook, provide Facebook services to websites, and improve Facebook’s own products and services. However, there is still no concrete information on whether Facebook maintains “shadow profiles” or not.
It isn’t surprising to see someone taking names after realizing that they are the only ones being blamed. The defense Facebook has is that some data collection methods have become a standard across the industry. The data collection goes on every moment.
It’s another thing that there wasn’t any researcher on other platforms who collected data from over 87 million users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica.
Talking about Google, the hard truth is that they may be having far more user data. However, the flamethrower is being pointed at Facebook. Maybe because Google has too much presence in our digital lives that it doesn’t seem separate and people don’t hold them responsible for the actions of third-party developers.
It goes to another level with platforms like Android; people knowingly or unknowingly have given away almost all of there digital stuff, including contacts, location data, photos, videos, etc.
The size of my Facebook data dump is around 110 megabytes. Fortunately, it doesn’t include call and text history. For Google, it is a whopping 9 gigs. It would still be higher than Facebook if the photos and videos are excluded.
Then there are tons of third-party apps constantly asking us to enable different permissions and give away our contacts, many times there is some freebie in return. Yet, there hasn’t been any serious call for action against them.