Bloomberg Businessweek
Facebook Data Privacy Mark Zuckerberg Data Hacking Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Facebook Data Privacy Mark Zuckerberg Data Hacking Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Facebook's Real Privacy Problem Is Facebook

Recent scandals show that limiting ad partners’ access to your data isn’t enough to protect it

Sarah Frier

Facebook Inc., which turned 15 on Feb. 4, spent the past year peppering you with apologias and promises about protecting your personal data from others. The company wants you to know that it doesn’t sell your data to advertisers, per se, and that you can limit data sharing with some other apps. It’s going to keep paying for pop-up kiosks and subway ads to reinforce that the thickets of data growing in its garden now are (imagine!) under your control. But Facebook still isn’t being transparent about the ways it collects information on you, and it’s quietly stepping up efforts to grab lots more.

The company’s knowledge goes far beyond status updates. It tracks people across the internet on other companies’ websites and apps. It uses IP addresses to target ads to people who turned off location-based tracking on their phones. It’s been caught collecting call and text histories from users’ Android devices. It’s stored facial data from people who never agreed to biometric scans. It was just caught monitoring the phone activity of some kids as young as 13. On Feb.7, Germany’s antitrust regulator was expected to announce the results of a three-year investigation into whether the company has illegally used its market power to coerce data sharing consent.

No wonder Facebook wants to have a different discussion about privacy. From his Senate testimony last year to a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month,


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