Several popular apps share detailed information with Facebook.

Several popular apps share detailed information with Facebook.

Various apps, including TripAdvisor and MyFitnessPal, share information with Facebook without the user’s explicit consent. In some cases, the apps share data with the social network as soon as they open. Among the submitted data there is also a unique identifier with which Facebook knows exactly which user is involved.

Privacy International reports this on the basis of its own research into the practices of Facebook and popular apps. The organization researched 34 popular Android apps and found out that there were 20 that share information with the social network without permission from users. In addition to TripAdvisor and MyFitnessPal, Kayak and Skyscanner also share data.

Detailed information

The apps share data with Facebook because they are often developed using the Facebook Software Developmet Kit, which helps developers build their apps for specific operating systems. 61 percent of apps appear to automatically share data with Facebook as soon as they are opened and regardless of whether a user has a Facebook account or not.

Facebook receives a wide range of data, including information about the use of a particular app. The Google Advertising ID (AAID), which helps advertisers to combine data on user behaviour of different apps and browsing sessions, is also included. In this way, the data can provide a comprehensive picture of a user’s activities, interests, behaviour and routines. This combination in turn can provide an image of, for example, someone’s religion, health or sexual orientation. Sometimes it’s very detailed information. For example, Kayak shares specific searches of people, including departure dates, the number of tickets and destinations.

GDPR violation?

The question is whether this is in line with the European Privacy Directive GDPR, which has been in force since 25 May 2018. Privacy International does not think so; GDPR requires companies to seek the consent of individual users before they can collect, use or sell personal data. The information that the apps share cannot be directly linked to an individual, although this can be done via detours.

A number of apps, including Skyscanner, let us know that they were not aware that the information was being shared. Facebook further states that developers can disable this information collection. According to the social network, users have the possibility to set the way in which their data is used.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.