Facebook Reveals It Can Track You Even When You Turn Location Settings Off
In a letter sent to members of the Senate, Facebook revealed that they are able to track where users are, even when location settings have been turned off.
The letter, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday, explains ways Facebook can still figure out where people are after they have selected not to share precise location data with the company, according to the AFP.
The social network, which was responding to a request for information by two senators, contended that knowing a user’s whereabouts has benefits ranging from showing ads for nearby shops to fighting hackers and battling misinformation.
“There is no opting out. No control over your personal information,” Republican Senator Josh Hawley said.
“That’s Big Tech. And that’s why Congress needs to take action.”
The company’s deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman, wrote that Facebook is able to deduce location based on a user’s IP address and how they behave on the platform, even if they’ve turned off “location services” on their phone. For instance, the platform can figure out where a user is located when they consistently say they are attending events in a certain city.
“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.
And, he added, “as part of using Facebook, people may provide Facebook with specific information about their location … They may check-in at a restaurant or a store, or apply a location tag to a photo, or their friend might tag them in a check-in post.”
Sherman also noted that Facebook always serves ads based on location information, even after a user has chosen to turn off location-tracking from their phone.
“By necessity, virtually all ads on Facebook are targeted based on location, though most commonly ads are targeted to people within a particular city or some larger region,” Sherman wrote.
So, Facebook admits that they know where their users are at all times, even when people tell them they’d prefer it if the tech giant wasn’t tracking them. That means, as long as you use Facebook, the company is able to know exactly where you are.
All of this is done in the name of advertising. Ask yourself, is it worth using social media knowing that you’re being watched?