Facebook Admits It Collects User Data Even From Non-Users


The company yesterday published a blogpost, where its product manager David Baser said that Facebook collects data about web users who aren't even logged into Facebook. "We did this because the website may have misused some of your Facebook information by sharing it with a company called Cambridge Analytica".

"If you register or login to the App using your Facebook account, you are authorizing us to access certain Facebook account information", the TOS reads, "including information you make available via Facebook, your friends list, relationship status, current location and those friends you have in common with other Bumblers".

Baser said Facebook doesn't sell that data but only uses it to cater content to you.

Facebook's apology-and-explanation machine grinds on, with The Social Network™ posting detail on one of its most controversial activities - how it tracks people who don't use Facebook.

"This is because other apps and sites don't know who is using Facebook", he added, noting Facebook was also following up with Congress on a few dozen questions Zuckerberg was unable to answer at the time of the hearings.

The advertisement tool allows Facebook to share statistics on how many people are responding to an ad with the advertising companies.

Other companies, including Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Pinterest and LinkedIn (NASDAQ:MSFT) have similar setups, Facebook says. Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google, and Twitter all offer login features.

The browser shares your IP address so the website knows where on the Internet to send the site content.

The website also gets information about the browser and the operating system (Android or Windows for example) you are using. "This can help with things like saving items in your shopping cart", Baser explained.

In return for that information, Facebook helps those websites serve up relevant ads or receive analytics that help them understand how people use their services.

"We require these security measures for the company's benefit because of the importance of Mr. Zuckerberg to Facebook, and we believe that the costs of this overall security program are appropriate and necessary".

Facebook is calling it the Data Abuse Bounty.

"So when a website uses one of our services, your browser sends the same kind of information to Facebook as the website receives". According to Baser, they are: "Providing our services to these sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services".

"We don't sell the data".

The process for downloading your Facebook data is a little convoluted, and you don't get it instantly.

The researchers labeled suspicious ad-buyers as groups with pages that have been inactive, inaccessible, removed or banned by Facebook since the election and there was no information available publicly about them.

The company insists that it only provides insights for advertisers based on user metrics, and maintains that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm based in the United Kingdom that claims to influence elections, took advantage of this system back in 2014. Facebook also lets users tweak their ad preferences with the option of opting out of the target and interest-based ads for better control.