Most Android apps are sending data to Facebook even if you don’t have an account

Rob Waugh
Contributor
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (Getty)

Facebook hoovers up data from most Android apps – even if users are not logged in to Facebook, or don’t have an account.

Privacy International tested 34 popular Android apps and found that two-thirds send data to Facebook as soon as they are launched.

It makes no difference if people are logged out of Facebook, or don’t have an account.

The data transmitted is used to build up advertising profiles, Privacy International said – but could build up detailed information on private matters such as health or religion, the privacy group said.

Privacy International said, ‘We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

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‘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 behavior from different apps and web browsing into a comprehensive profile.

‘If combined, data from different apps can paint a fine-grained and intimate picture of people’s activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal special category data, including information about people’s health or religion.’

A Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo News, ‘Facebook’s SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances.

‘We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users’ information. Finally, we provide guidance to developers on how to comply with our requirements in this regard.

‘Facebook’s collection of information is clearly explained in our Data Policy and Cookies Policy. We ensure that these policies are accessible from each page on Facebook, and that users can access and read these policies when they sign up to Facebook or during updates to these policies.’

German security experts MobilSicher last month tested apps including Pregnancy+ and MigraineBuddy, Bible+ and Muslim Pro were collecting information and transmitting it to Facebook.

The apps all use Facebook’s Software Developer Kit (SDK), which allows developers to use Facebook’s analytics service.