Have you ever searched something on Google then started seeing ads about it on Instagram or Facebook? Maybe this creeped you out, especially if you don’t have Facebook installed on your phone or maybe, you don’t even have a Facebook account at all. A similar incident happened to someone close to me, she searched for a hotel on Google and upon opening her Instagram, ads on that hotel were all over.
Turns out, according to research by Privacy International, a good number of apps on Android and iOS send data to Facebook and the giant social media uses this data to serve you ads.
This is not the first time such a report has been released but the organization says that the list now includes different apps.
How They Send Data
These apps, send a number of personally identifiable information, including your Google advertising ID, to Facebook servers immediately they are opened.
The Google advertising ID, which stores data on your digital footprint, is what Facebook uses to learn your characteristics and momentarily serve you ads based on your interests. The report indicates that Facebook is able to track users using this data across all their platforms, even if these users are not on all of them.
The problem lies with Facebook’s API which developers of these apps use. The Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK), integrated into these apps, automatically sends personal data to Facebook. The mistake of these developers is that they do not alert their users that their data would be shared with Facebook.
Here’s a list of the Android apps caught with this practice:
- King James Bible
- Qibla Connect
- Muslim Pro
Here’s a list of the iOS apps caught with this practice:
- Muslim Pro
- For Diabetes
- Your SPD
- Migraine Buddy
- My CDU
Privacy International says that they reached out to all the apps listed as well as Facebook and requested them to “fix the problem”. As at the time of going to press, only Duolingo had promised to remove Facebook’s SDK in their next update.