Facebook has just launched a new way to track user access

by nativetechdoctor
3 minutes read

Facebook recently launched a Link History feature that contains all the links users click on in the app.

Users can opt-out, but Linked History is enabled by default and the data is used for targeted ads. As lawmakers roll out tech regulations, and Apple and Google toughen privacy restrictions, Meta is looking for new ways to maintain its data collection practices.

The company positions Link History as a useful tool for consumers, with users’ browsing activity saved in one place rather than as another way to track behavior. Facebook announced in a pop-up window encouraging users to agree to the new tracking method. The company says that by allowing Link History, it can use the information to improve advertising on Meta’s technologies.

Users are also promised to have their Link History deleted within 90 days if this setting is turned off. According to the help page, Link History will be rolled out globally soon.

Meta has long tracked the links users click on, and this is the first time users have visibility or control over its tracking tools. So essentially Meta only asks users to license the tracking catalog it has used for more than a decade.

app When clicking on a link on Facebook or Instagram, the website loads in a special browser built into the app, not the default browser on the phone. In 2022, privacy researcher Felix Krause discovered Meta inserting special “keylogging” JavaScript into the websites users were visiting to allow the company to monitor everything they typed and clicked, which included passwords. Other apps like TikTok do the same thing.

Link history also creates a new mode for setting privacy settings, which will not be enforced if the user accesses Facebook without going through the Meta-powered application. Users cannot view the Link History page if they are using Facebook on a computer browser.

To participate in Meta’s advertising network, millions of companies have added a tracking tool called Meta Pixel to their websites. This will send Meta detailed information about the user’s activity even if they don’t use any Meta products, even if they don’t have an account on Facebook or Instagram. A 2022 investigation by Markup found that at least 30% of popular websites use Meta Pixels.

Facebook and Instagram users have little control over some data usage through a setting called Off-Facebook Activity as well as the misleadingly named Clear History tool. mistake, but the fact is that the company did not delete anything. That means Facebook now has two completely separate places, storing detailed information about the websites users visit along with settings to control data that is hard to find and easy to misinterpret.

The Link History tool shows that Meta is going in the exact opposite direction of other corporations. Apple introduced a strong privacy control for the iPhone called App Tracking Transparency in 2020. This was a serious blow to Meta’s data business.

Google is currently removing cookies in the Chrome browser, the testing phase will disable cookies for about 30 million users. In the European Union, regulators have enacted laws to prevent Meta from forcing users to consent to data collection.

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