Home / Technology / Facebook’s Tracking Of Non-Users Sparks Broader Privacy Concerns

Facebook’s Tracking Of Non-Users Sparks Broader Privacy Concerns

Facebook's Tracking Of Non-Users Sparks Broader Privacy Concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Concern about Facebook Inc’s admire for knowledge privateness is widening to incorporate the tips it collects about non-users, after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg stated the arena’s biggest social community tracks folks whether or not they’ve accounts or now not.

Privacy considerations have swamped Facebook because it stated ultimate month that details about hundreds of thousands of customers wrongly ended up within the palms of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, a company that has counted U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral marketing campaign amongst its shoppers.

Zuckerberg stated on Wednesday beneath wondering through U.S. Representative Ben Luján that, for safety causes, Facebook additionally collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

Lawmakers and privateness advocates in an instant protested the observe, with many pronouncing Facebook had to expand some way for non-users to determine what the corporate is aware of about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Representative Luján, a Democrat, instructed Zuckerberg, calling for such disclosure, a transfer that will have unclear results at the corporate’s skill to focus on advertisements. Zuckerberg didn’t reply. On Friday Facebook stated it had no plans to construct this type of instrument.

Critics stated that Zuckerberg has now not stated sufficient concerning the extent and use of the knowledge. “It’s not clear what Facebook is doing with that information,” stated Chris Calabrese, vp for coverage on the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington advocacy team.


Facebook will get some knowledge on non-users from folks on its community, comparable to when a person uploads e-mail addresses of buddies. Other knowledge comes from “cookies,” small information saved by way of a browser and utilized by Facebook and others to trace folks on the net, every so often to focus on them with advertisements.

“This kind of data collection is fundamental to how the internet works,” Facebook stated in a remark to Reuters.

Asked if folks may choose out, Facebook added, “There are basic things you can do to limit the use of this information for advertising, like using browser or device settings to delete cookies. This would apply to other services beyond Facebook because, as mentioned, it is standard to how the internet works.”

Facebook ceaselessly installs cookies on non-users’ browsers in the event that they seek advice from websites with Facebook”like” and “share” buttons, whether or not or now not an individual pushes a button. Facebook stated it makes use of surfing knowledge to create analytics reviews, together with about site visitors to a web site.

The corporate stated it does now not use the knowledge to focus on advertisements, aside from the ones inviting folks to enroll in Facebook.


Advocates and lawmakers say they’re singling out Facebook on account of its measurement, rivaled out of doors China most effective through Alphabet Inc’s Google, and since they allege Zuckerberg was once now not approaching concerning the extent and causes for the monitoring.

“He’s either deliberately misunderstanding some of the questions, or he’s not clear about what’s actually happening inside Facebook’s operation,” stated Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a senior team of workers technologist on the American Civil Liberties Union.

Zuckerberg, for example, stated the gathering was once accomplished for safety functions, with out explaining additional or pronouncing whether or not it was once extensively utilized for size or analytics, Gillmor stated, including that Facebook had a industry incentive to make use of the non-user knowledge to focus on advertisements.

Facebook declined to touch upon why Zuckerberg referred to safety most effective.

Gillmor stated Facebook may construct databases on non-users through combining internet surfing historical past with uploaded contacts. Facebook stated on Friday that it does now not achieve this.

The ACLU is pushing U.S. lawmakers to enact wide privateness regulation together with a demand for consent previous to knowledge assortment.

The first regulatory problem to Facebook’s practices for non-users would possibly come subsequent month when a brand new European Union regulation, referred to as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), takes impact and calls for realize and consent previous to knowledge assortment.

At a minimal, “Facebook is going to have to think about ways to structure their technology to give that proper notice,” stated Woodrow Hartzog, a Northeastern University professor of regulation and laptop science.

Facebook stated in its remark on Friday, “Our products and services comply with applicable law and will comply with GDPR.”

The social community can be smart to acknowledge a minimum of a proper to grasp, stated Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami regulation professor.

“If I’m not a Facebook user, I ought to have a right to know what data Facebook has about me,” Froomkin stated.

(Reporting through David Ingram; Editing through Peter Henderson and Richard Chang)

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