Face­book fu­els pri­vacy de­bate by track­ing non-users

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

CON­CERN about Face­book Inc’s re­spect for data pri­vacy is widen­ing to in­clude the in­for­ma­tion it col­lects about non-users, af­ter Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg said the world’s largest so­cial net­work tracks peo­ple whether they have ac­counts or not. Pri­vacy con­cerns have swamped Face­book since it ac­knowl­edged last month that in­for­ma­tion about mil­lions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tancy Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica, a firm that has counted U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s 2016 elec­toral cam­paign among its clients. Zucker­berg said on Wed­nes­day un­der ques­tion­ing by U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben Lu­jan that, for se­cu­rity rea­sons, Face­book also col­lects “data of peo­ple who have not signed up for Face­book.”

Law­mak­ers and pri­vacy ad­vo­cates im­me­di­ately protested the prac­tice, with many say­ing Face­book needed to de­velop a way for non-users to find out what the com­pany knows about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lu­ján, a Demo­crat, told Zucker­berg, call­ing for such dis­clo­sure, a move that would have un­clear ef­fects on the com­pany’s abil­ity to tar­get ads. Zucker­berg did not re­spond. On Fri­day Face­book said it had no plans to build such a tool.

Crit­ics said that Zucker­berg has not said enough about the ex­tent and use of the data. “It’s not clear what Face­book is do­ing with that in­for­ma­tion,” said Chris Cal­abrese, vice pres­i­dent for pol­icy at the Cen­ter for Democ­racy & Tech­nol­ogy, a Wash­ing­ton ad­vo­cacy group.

Face­book gets some data on non-users from peo­ple on its net­work, such as when a user up­loads email ad­dresses of friends. Other in­for­ma­tion comes from “cook­ies,” small files stored via a browser and used by Face­book and oth­ers to track peo­ple on the in­ter­net, some­times to tar­get them with ads.

“This kind of data col­lec­tion is fun­da­men­tal to how the in­ter­net works,” Face­book said in a state­ment to Reuters.

Asked if peo­ple could opt out, Face­book added, “There are ba­sic things you can do to limit the use of this in­for­ma­tion for ad­ver­tis­ing, like us­ing browser or de­vice set­tings to delete cook­ies. This would ap­ply to other ser­vices be­yond Face­book be­cause, as men­tioned, it is stan­dard to how the in­ter­net works.”

Face­book of­ten in­stalls cook­ies on non-users’ browsers if they visit sites with Face­book “like” and “share” but­tons, whether or not a per­son pushes a but­ton. Face­book said it uses brows­ing data to cre­ate an­a­lyt­ics re­ports, in­clud­ing about traf­fic to a site.

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