Facebook: In Our Defence, We're Not the Only Ones Harvesting Your Data

By Tom Pritchard on at

All eyes are on Facebook thanks to Cambridge Analytica shitstorm, and it seems like everyone suddenly has an opinion on how the social network uses their data for its own gain. But it's worth reminding everyone that Facebook isn't the only company that collects user data on such a massive scale.

Lots of other well known and popular companies do exactly the same thing. Granted they don't let third parties scrape that private data without permission, or at least not as far as we know, but Facebook is pointing out that it's not alone. That's mentioned in a new blog post from Product Management Director David Baser, which explains how and why Facebook collects data when users aren't actually on Facebook.

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.

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. These companies — and many others — also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.

It's a fair point to make, especially since there are some people who didn't realise Facebook collects user data to improve its ads in an attempt to earn more money for itself. As the saying goes, if you're not paying for a service you're the product that's being sold. In most cases that means using data to try and get you to click more adverts. Even if you are paying for something, like Netflix, they're still collecting data to try and boost its own services and personalise it to try and match your own tastes.

Unfortunately there's not a whole lot we can do about it. Tracker blocking tools certainly help, but even if you completely disconnect there are ways to collect your data - and Facebook knows that all too well. [Facebook via Ubergizmo]

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