The “How” Behind the Facebook Suck Machine.
This is part six of a multi-part series on, TheFacebook Dossier. Researched, reported, and compiled by Acreto IoT Security.
Facebook tracks both users and non-users extensively. Integration with Facebook has become essential for the many new Web or mobile apps coming to market daily. A large percentage of these apps are now completely connected to Facebook, while others rely on Facebook as a utility, even using it to authenticate users on behalf of applications that have no social purpose.
To say that Facebook is intertwined with thousands of applications that range from social to business is an understatement. Of the 2,556 apps in the Google app store, more than 40% are integrated into Facebook’s Audience Network to maximize clicks and boost audience engagement. Their data become Facebook’s data. Your behavior on these integrated apps – yes, Facebook tracks it all.
So what information does Facebook collect through its apps, plugins, and pixels using its Audience Network for the company’s massive advertising platform? Facebook tracks your:
device or computer type and model,
operating system, including its version and patch levels,
applications and their versions,
mouse movements, mouse clicks, and touchpoints on the screen,
time zone and language code,
name of your mobile carrier,
information on an app, including the name and description of your current activity (for example, “Watching News Video”),
all current active and previous IP addresses,
devices in your vicinity,
users in your vicinity (for example, registered Facebook accounts),
people in your vicinity (including non-Facebook registered persons),
current speed, and finally,
local accounts, including registered sites.
In crafting the same experience across every Facebook-enabled device, Facebook tracks many device attributes. Your battery levels and your storage space are just two of them. But the company can also paint an extensive picture of your IoT environment at will using IDs and mapping other devices that have no connection to Facebook.
In its own words, Facebook tracks and uses your device to scan the local network and identify other devices and their associated users. According to their website, Facebook states that they track the following:
Network and connections: information such as WIFI connection, the name of a user’s mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on their network, so we can do things like help them stream a video from their phone to their TV.
So not only does Facebook know where you are, but it also knows what and who is around you. A 2014 patent filed by Facebook shows that it can now determine if two users are local and even which way each user is facing in order to calculate the probability that they know each other and present them with appropriate “options” accordingly. How? By determining local wireless connections such as Bluetooth and NFC along with GPS, gyroscope, and even a user’s camera. The metadata and name of every Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth device a user has connected to is also included, even if it’s a device they haven’t used in months. This metadata is collected, tracked, and stored by Facebook.
Although the IoT is Facebook’s future, its current most active data collection tools of the trade are, one, the cookie and, two, the tracking pixel, both of which are unique identifier codes assigned to mark a system or a user. These silently sit in the background, observing and measuring user activity and behavior. All this information is sent to the Facebook mothership where it is processed into insight and used for revenue generation.
Next up in the Facebook Dossier, let’s explore a more detailed breakdown about how Facebook tracks users and non-users.
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About Acreto IoT Security
Acreto IoT Security delivers advanced security for IoT Ecosystems, from the cloud. IoTs are slated to grow to 50 Billion by 2021. Acreto’s Ecosystem security protects all Clouds, users, applications, and purpose-built IoTs that are unable to defend themselves in-the-wild. The Acreto platform offers simplicity and agility, and is guaranteed to protect IoTs for their entire 8-20 year lifespan. The company is founded and led by an experienced management team, with multiple successful cloud security innovations. Learn more by visiting Acreto IoT Security on the web at acreto.io or on Twitter @acretoio.