According to The Hill, Facebook has admitted to senators that it ignores users’ settings and continues to track their location in order to profit off of that information.
Senators Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had questioned how the social media giant handled location tracking, specifically whether it continued to track individuals even if they turned location tracking off. In reply to the senators’ request, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman, indicated that the company continues to use other means at its disposal to track users, regardless of their location sharing settings.
“When location services is off, Facebook may still understand people’s locations using information people share through their activities on Facebook or through IP addresses and other network connections they use,” Sherman wrote.
Sherman went on to add that as people use Facebook, they often leave indicators of their activities, such as checking in at a restaurant, location-tagging a photo or appearing in a friend’s photo, all of which the company uses to continue tracking them. In addition, the company uses this indirect tracking information to keep providing targeted ads based on that location data, even if location tracking is turned off on their phone.
Needless to say, the senators were not pleased with this admission and had strong words regarding the company’s behavior.
“Facebook claims that users are in control of their own privacy, but in reality, users aren’t even given an option to stop Facebook from collecting and monetizing their location information,” Coons said. “The American people deserve to know how tech companies use their data, and I will continue working to find solutions to protect Americans’ sensitive information.”
“There is no opting out. No control over your personal information,” Hawley tweeted. “That’s Big Tech. And that’s why Congress needs to take action.”