Several major news organizations and outlets, from AFP to CNBC to The Hill, are reporting that Facebook told US senators that it continues to track users’ location even after they’ve turned those settings off within the app. Don’t be shocked — we learned about this exactly one year ago.
Yesterday, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman, explained the how and why in a letter to senators Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), after they asked about the company’s policies on location tracking.
anyone want a granular accounting of how Facebook knows your location
well here you go anyways and there's 5 more pages where that came from pic.twitter.com/tzaSQ2mU6H
— Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e) December 17, 2019
The social network can use your IP address, check-ins, and photos in which you’re tagged to learn where you are — and use that information to target you with relevant ads and content in your News Feed. That’s how Facebook makes money. It’s in the business of helping marketers reach exactly the sort of people they want to advertise their products and services to.
As I mentioned, we learned about all this a year ago, in journalist Kashmir Hill’s story published by Gizmodo on December 18, 2018. Given how the stars aligned and these reports came out right around the anniversary of Hill’s piece, it seems apt to make an annual tradition of reminding people about how Facebook does business — and how nothing about that has changed.
For what it’s worth, we’ve got a guide on how you can turn location tracking off in Facebook’s mobile apps. As you’ve surmised by now, that will only serve to limit how much information the company has about where you are.
Your best bet, really, is to stop using its apps altogether.