Facebook explained to two U.S. senators why they still track users’ locations even if they shut down the tracking service. But lawmakers still say Facebook should give users more control over their data. Facebook responded to questions from Senators Josh Hawley and Chris Coons, who last month asked Facebook to “respect” users’ decision to keep their locations secret.
In a letter released Tuesday, on December 12, Facebook explained why it was able to estimate users’ locations after they chose to refuse to track locationthroughally through their smartphone’s operating system.
Facebook says that even if location tracking is turned off, it can infer the approximate location of users based on context cues, such as where they tag in photos and the IP address of the device. While the data is less accurate than the data Facebook collects when it is enabled to track locations, the company says it can be used for a variety of purposes, including alerting users when accessing user accounts in unusual places and curbing the spread of false information.
Facebook acknowledges that it also advertises based on limited location information users receive when they turn off or restrict tracking. Facebook doesn’t allow users to turn off location-based ads, but it does allow users to block Facebook from collecting its exact location, the company wrote.
“All ads on Facebook are actually location-based, although the most common ads are for a specific city or larger area. “Otherwise, people in Washington, D.C., will receive ads about services or events in London, and vice versa,” Facebook wrote. ”
Holly, a frequent critic of technology companies, said on Twitter that it showed that Facebook “admitted to shutting down ‘location services’ and that they would continue to track your location to make money (to send you ads). You can’t opt out at all. You have no control over your personal information. This is the tech giant. That’s why Congress needs to act. ”
“I thank Facebook for telling users about their privacy options. But given how Facebook actually handles user data, I worry that these efforts are not enough and even misleading. In response to our letter, said, Facebook confirmed that even if location access was turned off, users could not prevent Facebook from using its location and provide them with ads based on that information. Facebook claims that users can control their privacy, but in reality, users can’t even choose to prevent Facebook from collecting and profiting from its location. Americans should know how technology companies use their data, and I will continue to work to find solutions to protect sensitive American information. “