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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 was accused of leaking data to Cambridge Analytica earlier this year.
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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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Tech Giants to join Data Transfer Project (DTP) To Help Users Manage Data

The Data Transfer Project uses services' existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service's API.

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According to Google, the project will let users "transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it". (Wikimedia Commons)

To help billions of users manage their data and help them transfer that into and out of online services without privacy issues, four tech giants — Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter — on Friday announced to join the open source initiative called Data Transfer Project (DTP).

In the early stages at the moment, the Data Transfer Project will help users of one service to use their data to sign up for another service with encryption.

“Using your data from one service when you sign up for another still isn’t as easy as it should be. Today we’re excited to announce that we’re participating in the Data Transfer Project,” said Steve Satterfield, Privacy and Public Policy Director at Facebook in a statement.

The initiative comes at a time when data-sharing is making headlines — be it the massive Cambridge Analytica data scandal or third-party apps accessing users’ data at various platforms — amid countries announcing new data-protection laws like the European General Data Regulation Protection (GDPR).

Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently and uses different types of data that may require unique privacy controls and settings.

“For example, you might use an app where you share photos publicly, a social networking app where you share updates with friends, and a fitness app for tracking your workouts,” said Satterfield.

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Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently. Pixabay

“These are the kinds of issues the Data Transfer Project will tackle. The Project is in its early stages, and we hope more organisations and experts will get involved,” he added.

The Data Transfer Project uses services’ existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service’s API.

According to Google, the project will let users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it”.

The tech giants also released a white paper on this project.

“The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open. Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly,” read the white paper.

According to Damien Kieran, Data Protection Officer at Twitter, right now, much of the online products and services we use do not interact with each other in a coherent and intuitive fashion.

“Information that is housed on one platform cannot be easily and securely transferred to other services. This is not a positive collective experience for the people who use our services and we are keen to work through some of the challenges as an industry,” Twitter said.

Also Read-Google, Facebook Have Been Using “Dark Patterns”: Report

The Data Transfer Project was formed in 2017 to create an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform so that all individuals across the web could easily move their data between online service providers whenever they want. (IANS)