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Facebook clarifies how it collects data when you’re logged out

Facebook is embroiled in a widening scandal that a British data firm called Cambridge Analytica improperly gathered detailed information on its 87 million users

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Facebook warned investors that there may be more such data breaches in the future. Pixabay
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After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress last week, the company on Tuesday tried to clarify on questions how it collects data when people are not directly using the website or app.

Many websites and apps use Facebook services to make their content and ads more engaging and relevant.

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The social media app is in news for all the wrong reasons lately. VOA

“Apps and websites that use our services, such as the Like button or Facebook Analytics, send us information to make their content and ads better,” David Baser, Product Management Director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

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.

“When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don’t know who is using Facebook,” Baser added.

Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them.

“Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services. Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features,” Facebook said.

These companies — and many others — also offer advertising services. When you visit a website, your browser (for example Chrome, Safari or Firefox) sends a request to the site’s server. 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 operating system (for example Android or Windows) you’re using because not all browsers and devices support the same features.

Also Read: Google Home To Be Your Best Friend Now

“It also gets cookies, which are identifiers that websites use to know if you’ve visited before. This can help with things like saving items in your shopping cart,” Facebook explained. “So when a website uses one of our services, your browser sends the same kind of information to Facebook as the website receives. We also get information about which website or app you’re using, which is necessary to know when to provide our tools,” Baser noted.

There are three main ways in which Facebook uses the information it gets from other websites and apps.

“Providing our services to these sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services,” Baser said.

“We also use the information we receive from websites and apps to help protect the security of Facebook. For example, receiving data about the sites a particular browser has visited can help us identify bad actors,” he posted.

Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook needs to fix itself. Pixabay

Zuckerberg, appearing before the US Congress last week, told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of 87 million users’ that was “improperly shared” with British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

“We don’t sell the data. We use the data that people put into the system in order to make them more relevant. I believe people own their content,” he told the US Congress.

Facebook is embroiled in a widening scandal that a British data firm called Cambridge Analytica improperly gathered detailed information on its 87 million users. IANS

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Google Sends Email to Employees Asking Them to Delete China Search Engine Memo

The China search engine would link users' search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo

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Google asks employees to delete China search engine memo: Report. Wikimedia Commons

In its bid to suppress a memo revealing information about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, Google has sent an email to employees asking them to delete the sensitive document, The Intercept reported.

Authored by a Google engineer familiar with the project, the memo disclosed that the search system would require users in China to log in to perform searches.

Codenamed Dragonfly, the search engine would track the location of users and share the data with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data, said the report on Friday, citing the memo.

The news about Google’s plan to build a censored search engine in China broke in August when The Intercept reported that the search platform would blacklist “sensitive queries” about topics including politics, free speech, democracy, human rights and peaceful protest, triggering internal protests among some Google employees.

Two weeks after that report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the company’s employees that the China plan was in its “early stages” and “exploratory”.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

A group of Google employees who were organising internal protests over the censored search system got access to the memo detailing information about the project.

The Google leadership, according to the The Intercept report, were furious when they discovered that the memo was being passed among employees who were not supposed to know about about the Dragonfly project.

Also Read- India Gets Its Sex Offender Registry

The China search engine would link users’ search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo.

This means if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google, individual people could easily be tracked and users seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention. (IANS)