March 30, 2018
Everyone is becoming more concerned about their digital privacy and how online services collect vast chunks of their personal data, with Facebook in one of the most controversial positions. Now, as people are contemplating on whether they should opt out from using the social media platform, it is worth noting that Facebook tracks your virtual movements, even if you are logged out, or not even a member.
David Baser, Facebook’s product management director, states that the company tracks users who use or visits apps and websites which has incorporated Facebook services, such as “like,” “share,” and “Login with 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," he states, further pointing out that the apps and websites won’t know whether their users are signed up with Facebook or not.
Through this method, the social media giant can gather information on non-users such as their IP addresses, operating systems, which browser they are surfing on, and also the presence of cookies.
This fact has raised a lot of concern amongst lawmakers, especially during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing. However, one of the company spokespeople has pointed out that they don’t use this information to target ads at non-users, nor is the data used for the creation of shadow-profiles. She stated that it is impossible to specifically identify a user solely based on these data.
However, this information is used by the company to urge non-users to sign up with their platform. Furthermore, the company also helps their partner websites and apps with insights as to how many people are visiting their service.
Now it is to be noted that non-users are totally helpless and can’t opt out of this functionality. On the other hand, people who do use Facebook get the option to opt out of being targeted by ads on the platform or partner websites and apps. But they can’t turn off the company’s user tracking.