As we learned last year, Facebook has the habit of hiding customer information to improve its own products and services and then apologize when the world finds out. There have been several cases that point out the company will go any length to learn more about its users. This is worrying for several reasons, but it is particularly worrying as the company still has enormous potential to reach billions of users.
Here's a comprehensive list of known Facebook attempts to gather information for your own needs. It does not include incidents such as fiery Cambridge Analytica last year, in which the wrong steps of the company allowed the third party to lose their personal information.
Pay $ 20 for teens for how to use their phones
The first is the latest discovery by TechCrunch, which states that the social network pays $ 20 a month for teenagers to install an intriguing application to track the habit of using the phone. She has been tracking private messages in social media applications, talking with instant messaging apps, including photos and videos, emails, web searches, web browsing activities, and even current location information.
To achieve this, Facebook opted for the non-sales route of the App Store and asked testers to use alternative application testing platforms such as Betabound, uTest and Applause. The program asked users to install the Facebook Research application from a specific URL instead of the App Store, and then grant extensive activity tracking permissions on their phones.
In your TechCrunch report have found that the Facebook Research application has some similarities with the Facebook application of Onavo VPN (which Apple banned). However, in the statement for TNW, the company denied that the Research application was rebuilt with the Onavo version. _ (ツ) _ / ¯
Facebook told TNW that only 5 percent of Atlas project participants – the Facebook name assigned to this initiative to move away from their efforts to collect data – were teenagers. That's strange, given that TechCrunch found out that the uTest ran the campaigns on Instagram and Snapchat for "paid social media research" specifically aimed at young people. TNW also found Reddit's posts with the Atlas Project Application Instructions.
This incident shows that despite being banned in the App Store, Facebook is persistent in collecting data to find ways to address these issues.
There is a "free VPN"
In 2013, Facebook bought Onavo, who offered a VPN service claiming to "block potentially harmful websites and protect your data." In February last year, the company even tried to promote the service via the "Protect" card in the primary Facebook application.
In 2011, Facebook introduced a concept called "Sponsored Stories" that utilized the content of users such as submissions, photos, and comments to create ads for companies like Coca-Cola and Starbucks.
Surprisingly, there was no way out of this. So in April 2011, People sued Facebook for using their information without their consent. Two years later, the company had to pay $ 9 million in civil lawsuits; the amount is divided between 614,000 people. It also closed the Sponsored Story program.
Android texts and calls
They downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file
Somehow I have my call history with my mom partner pic.twitter.com/CIRUguf4vD
– Dylan McKay (@dylanmckaynz) March 21, 2018
In her defense, the company said she had requested the user to access call logs and SMS. However, as structured permissions for Android, it is difficult to know which specific application data is being collected. What's more, the Android model of usage permissions – which has enabled or disabled permissions for certain parts after installing the app – was introduced only in 2015.
In addition, in December last year, some internal documents released by the British Parliament suggested that Facebook knew that the pace of writing the call records and SMS could go back to defense, but it continued to do so. It is clear that the company acted in its own interest and did not take into account the privacy of the user in this case.
Shadow profiles and extensive data collection
Last year, when Executive Director Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress on the leak of customer data in Cambridge Analytica, Ben Lujan, a representative of the Third Congress Area in New Mexico, asked him to collect data from users who did not sign up for Facebook:
You said everyone controlled their data but collected data about people who are not even Facebook users who have never signed a consent or privacy agreement and you collect their information. And you direct people who do not have a Facebook page to sign up for Facebook to get their data.
Lujan was thinking of "Shadow Profiles" that exist on Facebook even if a person has not signed up for any of the company's services. Gizmodo wrote a comprehensive report on how people who have never registered for Facebook or who have only interacted with you online via your non-social networking email address may appear in the section "People you know ". This has shown that the company collects more data from your online activities than it previously allowed.
Recently Frederike Kaltheuner and Christopher Weatherhead from Privacy International, a nonprofit organization from the United Kingdom, who seeks to preserve privacy, has shown that Facebook collects data from Android phones. The conversation also shows how other apps share Facebook data. Below you can watch the video.
Always over and over, Facebook has found ways to embed your data with a hook or thief, even if you do not use its service. As if that was not enough, the company sought to expand its reach by unifying the message exchange infrastructure in Instagram, WhatsAppand Facebook Messenger.
As my colleague Abhimany wrote, adopting open standards could help limit Facebook's power, but internal practice and business history can make existing and future users uncomfortable. As we've said in the past, maybe it's time to change the management of a company to save its reputation.