Facebook is still secretly tracking your iPhone or Android, but here’s how to stop it
Apple’s iOS 14.5 was supposed to allow users to regain control of their data, at least according to the story, by preventing apps from tracking their every move. Apple has been rocking that privacy drum for a long time now, and customers have taken the company at its word. In fact, you’ve probably already read our report that 95% of users have chosen not to allow the Facebook app to track their data since the iOS 14.5 privacy changes launched a few weeks ago. However, what’s stopping Facebook from continuing to follow you once the data ends up on their servers? Not much, ultimately, but there are options to lower the screws a bit more.
Do you really need geotagging to share photos?
The Facebook app uses some pretty crazy loopholes to find out where you are. Users unknowingly share their location with all kinds of services by accident every day. For example, photos with geo tags tell the world where the photo was taken, and a timestamp will indicate when. Sharing access to photos effectively gives Facebook or any other service complete reign of location history every time the camera is turned on. Fortunately, on iOS and Android, geolocation is an optional feature that can be turned off quite easily. iOS 14.5 also allows users to select specific photos for apps to see. They don’t need to be able to read everything on the camera roll, just the photos you select. This can allow an application to see some location history if there are geotaggers, but that is not the whole history of the camera.
Remember that even when we don’t share our data directly with Facebook, the company has other ways to get it. If your friends check you in at a location, Facebook considers it a direct confirmation of where you are and what you’re doing. Facebook business customers also share data with the business. Facebook’s advertising policy says that whenever you give an email address or phone number to a physical business, it can be added to a customer list, which is then shared with the mothership.
Your IP address and location are constantly shared with Facebook
Just using Facebook requires sharing at least some data with the business. If you are a Facebook user, access to the service requires an Internet connection with an IP address. While IP location is not an exact science, it may be enough on its own to get a rough estimate of your location. Even popular services like What’s My IP Address? can approximate the location. Unless you access Facebook through a VPN or ditch the service altogether, it’s probably time to come to terms with the idea that Facebook is going to at least track some location data and try to find out. more about you through the photos you share.
The point is, we’re just sharing this little piece of location data with everyone, apparently. For example, apps can get current location in the most annoying way. For example, images embedded in HTML contained in emails. If your email app loads images by default, simply fetching images shares an IP address. Whenever Facebook (or Twitter, Amazon, etc.) sends an email with an image tag in the body, the upload of that image shares a rough approximation of your location.
You don’t have to upload unsecured images in emails
This is an option in the iOS Settings app. In the messaging settings, just turn off the Upload remote images option. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more hidden in the Android GMail app. In GMail, go to Settings, then select an account. At the bottom are two related settings: images and dynamic email. Select Images to get a pair of radio buttons. Disabling remote images also disabled Dynamic Email, which includes showing Google AMP content in emails. Unfortunately, since this is an account-level setting, it must be set on each account in the event of multiple syncing with the device.
We live in a new world of privacy because businesses oppose each other. It’s not just Apple vs. Facebook, either. It’s also Signal against Facebook, or Google against Apple, or so many other conflicts. It appears that the owner of the Android platform, Google, has been reluctant to over-promote privacy in upgrades to its operating system, at least in part because of its own crawl strategies. data and monetization.
Let’s not forget, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting the privacy battle for much longer than Apple. The EFF has taken its own photos on Facebook in the past, calling the social network’s complaints laughable. He also wanted to remind everyone that that Facebook advertising money spent is going into Facebook’s pockets, not the content creators you’re going to see. It sounds a lot like another online content service, YouTube, where creators have to scour a copyright minefield to get a tiny slice of the revenue.
Online businesses need to rethink their revenue models and look for other ways to extract monetizable data from their users, as we’ve outlined above. There are certain tradeoffs that must be made with any online service. The key question to ask yourself is whether you trust the entity whose service you are using with your own personal data.