Bad news: #DeleteFacebook still won't get you off Facebook's radar
The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal highlighted how data of 87 million users was exploited due to Facebook's lax policies regarding data collection by third-party apps. A movement called #DeleteFacebook started that stood against Facebook's disregard for data security and aimed to boycott it to reclaim privacy on the internet. However, people who don't have a Facebook account can still be tracked by the social network. Here's how.
According to a blog post by Facebook, the company tracks ex-users and non-users mainly through websites and apps that use Facebook's services. They send visitor information to Facebook to use its database and make their own content/ads more relevant to target the right audience. So Facebook receives information regardless of the visitor being logged out or being a non-user.
This information exchange between standalone websites and apps and Facebook happens through social plug-ins, third-party Facebook Login, Facebook Analytics, Facebook ads and measurement tools. "So if you visit a lot of sports sites that use our services, you might see sports-related stories higher up in your News Feed," Facebook said. Notably, several other platforms like Twitter, Google, and Pinterest also do this.
The data that Facebook collects in this way includes IP address, browser/OS information, website URL, cookies, and other device identifiers. It is mainly used to "provide services to these websites or apps, improve safety and security on Facebook, and enhancing Facebook's products and services."
This explanation by the company comes after CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent public testimony before the US Congress. During the hearing, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook collects data on people who don't even have a Facebook account "for security purposes."
So far, many influential brands and public figures have come out to support #DeleteFacebook including Playboy, Mozilla, Sonos, Elon Musk, and Brian Acton. Earlier, Zuckerberg said that #DeleteFacebook hadn't led to a meaningful drop in cumulative users, but a recent report claimed that 9% of US users have gone off the social network after the scandal. Despite that, Facebook's quarterly sales have risen by almost 50% at the end of the first quarter of 2018.