A private study found several popular Android apps communicated information to Facebook about users who do not have an account on the social media platform.
The study conducted by United Kingdom-based Privacy International found 23 out of the 34 Android apps tested had sent information to Facebook.
The apps communicate the following to Facebook:
- A user using a specific app
- Every time a user opens and closes an app
- Information about the nature of the device the user owns
- The user’s suspected location based on language and time zone settings
The apps had between 10 million to 500 million customers.
App developers share data with Facebook through the Facebook Software Development Kit, the report found.
“We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app,” the study found. “This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.”
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“We also found that some apps routinely send Facebook data that is incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive,” the study found.
The study said the following apps sent sensitive information to Facebook without asking permission: Super-Bright LED Flashlight, My Talking Tom, Skater Boy, Tripadvisor, Shazam, Spotify, Indeed Job Search, Duolingo, Skyscanner, Yelp, Kayak, VK, MyFitnessPal, Period Tracker: Clue, Muslim Pro, Salatuk, Family Locator GPS Tracker, King James Bible, Qibla Connect, Secuirty Master and Clean Master.
Speaking to Yahoo News, a Facebook spokesperson said the company requires developers to follow the law and offers them guidance for complying with the social network's requirements.
"Facebook’s collection of information is clearly explained in our Data Policy and Cookies Policy," the spokesperson told Yahoo News. "We ensure that these policies are accessible from each page on Facebook and that users can access and read these policies when they sign up to Facebook or during updates to these policies."
In December, the New York Times reported Facebook offered tech giants such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify wide access to data such as friends' lists and even private messages without users' permission.
However, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, said in a statement that no partnerships or features introduced as part of the data sharing initiative were done without user permission.
Facebook is under scrutiny for its handling of user data.
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