Now reports show that user data is still not safe with Facebook and many other popular social apps. According to the recent study, many popular Android apps have been secretly sending private data to Facebook without asking permission from users.
At least 20 out of 34 popular Android apps are sending personal data to Mark Zuckerberg’s social network without asking permission from users. Some of the apps that were identified in the report were TripAdvisor, MyFitnessPal, Skyscanner, and Kayak.
Facebook has been in hot water since early last year when it was revealed that the company exposed data of around 87 million users to a Cambridge Analytica researcher, who was working for the Trump campaign. The data breach eventually caused the political consulting firm to shut down and it also tarnished Facebook’s reputation badly, as per Vox.
In September, Wired first reported that Facebook’s privacy problems escalated severely when 50 million user accounts were exposed to a vulnerability that enabled attackers to directly take over user accounts.
And now, according to a report from German mobile security initiative Mobilsicher, popular apps like Tinder, OkCupid, and Pregnancy+ may be siphoning off private user data and sharing it with Facebook. The apps were found to be collecting data like users' religious affiliation, dating profiles, and healthcare data.
Privacy International, a UK-based campaign group, found that TripAdvisor, Kayak, Skyscanner, and MyFitnessPal are just a few of the many Android apps that are sending sensitive user data to Facebook. Privacy International said some apps sent particularly sensitive and detailed data to Facebook, such as the travel booking app Kayak. The kayak was found to be sharing detailed information about a person's flight searches with Facebook, like their departure city, airport, and date, as well as their arrival city, airport, and date, the number of tickets they purchased, whether the tickets purchased, were for children and which class of tickets was purchased.
The Android version of religious apps like Bible + Audio and MuslimPro, health-related apps such as Pregnancy+ and Migraine Buddy, as well as dating apps including OkCupid and Tinder and found Facebook collects data from them.
The firm explained that 30 percent of all apps in Google's Play Store contact Facebook at startup and transmit user data. This way, the company knows which apps you use and when you use them – including apps related to religion, sexuality or health. For users, this data-transmission is entirely invisible.
The personal information is being collected via Facebook's Software Developer Kit (SDK), a platform that the firm offers to developers and lets users log in to other services with their Facebook account.
Facebook can see information from developers like the type of device used, what time users are on the app, the IP address of the device that used the app and an advertising ID that's specific to a certain user.
Other data that is sent to Facebook includes the user's unique ID with Google, which helps advertisers build a 'comprehensive profile' around a user, such as their gender, religion, interests, activities and other detailed information.
Now, these tech giants may deny collecting the data for any nefarious purposes. Yet, by insisting on collecting detailed data about an individual's preferences, behaviours and even privileged information, such as their sexual orientation, religious beliefs or health status, tech giants such as Facebook and Google may be playing a game which only leads to one conclusion – that this data is being used to influence user behavior.
Photograph by Chinnapong