Facebook users sued Meta, accusing the company of tracking on iOS through a loophole • CableFree TV

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Apple major privacy update for iOS In the past year, it has become much more difficult for apps to track user behavior outside of their boundaries, but a new lawsuit alleges Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta continued to look for a workaround.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and reproduced below, alleges that Meta circumvented Apple’s new restrictions by tracking users through the in-app Facebook browser, which opens links within the app. Proposed class action lawsuit first reported bloombergcan allow anyone affected to log in, which in the case of Facebook could mean hundreds of millions of users in the US.

In the lawsuit, a pair of Facebook users allege that Meta not only violates Apple policy, but also state and federal privacy laws, including Law on wiretapping, which made it illegal to intercept emails without consent. Another similar complaint (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.) was filed last week.

The plaintiffs allege that Meta tracks users’ online activity by directing them to a web browser built into Facebook and injecting JavaScript into the sites they visit. This code allows the company to track “every interaction with external websites”, including where they click, what passwords and other text they enter:

“Now, even when users do not consent to being tracked, Meta tracks users’ Facebook online activity and communication with external third-party websites by injecting JavaScript code into those sites. When users click on a link in the Facebook app, Meta automatically directs them to the app’s browser it’s tracking, rather than the smartphone’s default browser, without telling users that this is happening or that they’re being tracked.”

Apple introduced iOS 14.5 last April. massive blow to social media companies like Meta, which relied on tracking user behavior for advertising purposes. The company mentioned the iOS changes specifically in its earnings call as it prepared investors to adapt to the new normal for its ad targeting business, calling Apple’s privacy changes a “headwind” it will need to overcome.

In a new iOS privacy tip, Apple asks if a user agrees to have their activity tracked “on apps and websites of other companies.” Users who opt out may reasonably believe they are in an external web browser when they open links on Facebook or Instagram, although the company will likely claim otherwise.

Security researcher Felix Krause Concerns have arisen about Facebook and Instagram’s in-app browsers. last month, and the lawsuit is largely based on his report. He urged Meta to direct users to Safari or another external browser to close the loophole.

“Do what Meta already does with WhatsApp: stop modifying third party websites and use Safari or SFSafariViewController for all third party websites,” Krause wrote on his blog. “It’s what’s best for the user and right.”

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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