Tuesday June 18, 2019
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Facebook Tracks Even Those Android Users Who Do Not Use The App

"We do this in a transparent manner by explaining the practice through our Data Policy and Cookies Policy, and by using Google's advertising identifier, which can be controlled centrally by people using their device settings," it added

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Facebook releases Messenger redesign on Android, iOS. Pixabay

Making things worse for Facebook, which is already mired in controversies surrounding data leaks of tens of millions of its users, a new research has found that the social media giant tracks even those Android users who do not use the app.

Facebook routinely tracks users, non users and logged out users outside its platform, said the study by UK-based charity Privacy International.

App developers share data with Facebook through the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK), a set of software development tools that help developers build apps for a specific operating system, showed the findings.

Scrutiny of Facebook increased manifold since it revealed earlier this year how the now defunct London-based political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, improperly got access to data of up to 87 millions users.

For the latest study, Privacy International examined 34 apps on Android, each with an install base from 10 to 500 million.

The apps included language-learning tool Duolingo, travel and restaurant website TripAdvisor, job database Indeed and flight search engine Skyscanner among others.

The researchers analysed what data these apps transmitted to Facebook through the Facebook SDK. All apps were tested between August and December 2018.

The research, presented at Chaos Computer Congress in Leipzig, Germany, showed that that at least 61 per cent of apps that Privacy International tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not,” the report said.

This data reveals the fact that a user is using a specific app, every single time that user opens an app.

“In our analysis, apps that automatically transmit data to Facebook share this data together with a unique identifier, the Google advertising ID (AAID),” the researchers said.

The primary purpose of advertising IDs, such as the Google advertising ID (or Apple’s equivalent, the IDFA) is to allow advertisers to link data about user behaviour from different apps and web browsing into a comprehensive profile, according to the report.

Responding to the findings, Google said that users can disable ads personalisation via a control in the Google Account controls.

This will stop Google advertising services from creating user profiles for advertising purposes or for targeting users with personalised advertising.

Also Read- Nokia Launches Nokia 106 in India

Facebook told Privacy International that sharing data is “common practice for many companies” and is useful for both users and the companies involved, The Independent reported on Wednesday.

“This information is important for helping developers understand how to improve their apps and for helping people receive relevant advertising in a privacy-protective way,” Facebook said.

“We do this in a transparent manner by explaining the practice through our Data Policy and Cookies Policy, and by using Google’s advertising identifier, which can be controlled centrally by people using their device settings,” it added. (IANS)

Next Story

No one Would Buy a Huawei Smartphone Sans Google or Facebook

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle

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FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Nishant Arora

Be honest and ask yourself: Would you buy a smartphone that neither supports Android operating system and Google apps nor comes pre-installed with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? This is the scenario which Huawei (and its sub-brand Honor) smartphones stare at in the near future – and an imminent fall if the issue does not get resolved in the next one-two quarters.

Although the Chinese communications giant aims to launch its own operating system called “Hongmeng” to replace the Android OS on its smartphones but ‘abhi Dilli door hai’ as the OS has to see the light of the day and then users’ approval, which is the most critical part.

The absence of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp that truly define user experiences is a double whammy for Huawei.

Currently the second largest smartphone player in the world (powered by stupendous growth in non-US regions like Europe and Asia), Huawei has sensed the tough road ahead. A recent report in Nikkei Asian Review claimed that Huawei has “downgraded its forecast for total smartphone shipments in the second half of 2019 by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent from the previous estimate”.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, almost half of Huawei’s smartphone volumes come from outside China with its wide smartphone portfolio which runs on Android with Google Mobile Services (GMS) – a collection of Google applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) that help support functionality across devices.

“China has its own ecosystem of apps which are hugely popular but only in China. Outside it, almost all popular Android apps are from Google or from US-based companies. These apps are the heart of experience of any smartphone user these days,” Singh told IANS.

“Without these apps present on its own OS, it will be very very tough for Huawei to pull in demand for its phones running on its own OS,” he added.

Sandwiched between the ongoing US-China trade war, Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei is frantically looking to salvage its prestige and fast cover the lost ground.

The company is also looking at the Indian smartphone market which has touched 450 million smartphone users and has a great potential to grow.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

“In India, they have never been really able to scale up to be a major player. But considering the growth potential in India, the decision by Google and Facebook has put a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for the country as the next growth market in next two-three years outside of China,” Singh told IANS.

Huawei pipped Apple as the second largest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2019 after Samsung. It clocked 17 per cent market share in the global smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Chinese tech giant, meanwhile, has denied reports that it has cut down smartphone manufacturing.

The company, however, is reassessing its target to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor by 2020, after the US trade ban was put in place.

On May 15, US President Donald Trump effectively banned Huawei with a national security order.

Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of the US President Donald Trump’s order to ban it.

Also Read- Samsung Galaxy M40 Tech Review: Stunning Display, Better Chipset

According to reports, Google has also discussed with the US government about an exemption from the Huawei ban, saying it is bad for the company’s technology business.

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle.

Unless, a miracle happens. (IANS)