By: Shweta Ganjoo – June 12, 2018
Data security is a modern age myth. In the recent times, tech giants, particularly Facebook, have been accused of aggressively and extensively harnessing user data. And now Facebook has just admitted how efficient it is at the task.
The social media giant in a 225-page document responding to a set of 2,000 questions by the US Senate Committee on Judiciary admitted that it collects information from and about computers, phones, and connected devices, including mouse, that users use with its various services and that it combines this information to give users a personalised content.
Facebook said that it tracks mouse movements to help its algorithm distinguish between humans and bots. Tracking mouse movements also helps the social media giant, which has been under fire for its data privacy practices, to also determine if the window is foregrounded or backgrounded.
“We collect information from and about the computers, phones, connected TVs and other web-connected devices users use that integrate with our Products, and we combine this information across different devices users use,” Facebook wrote in the document adding that the collected information is used to “give better personalize the content (including ads), to measure whether they took an action in response to an ad we showed them on their phone”.
The social networking platform also admitted that it collects information about operating systems, hardware, software versions, battery levels, signal strength, available storage space, Bluetooth signals, file names and types, device Ids, browser and browser plugins (which is almost all of the information available on and about your device), from the users’ phones, TV and other connected devices.
The company also admitted to collecting information about users’ reported gender, people users have removed from their friend list and every ad the user has ever clicked on.
It is interesting to note that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during a Congressional hearing on the sidelines of the Cambridge Analytica scandal had said that the app does not use the microphones to snoop on its users. Yet a patent held by the company states that the Facebook app uses voice recognition algorithm, which uses audio recorded by the microphones, to modify the ranking scores of stories in users News Feed.
While the document released by Facebook might be in agreement with Zuckerberg’s testimony back in April, it sheds light on the extent of data scrutiny that Facebook users and even the people in their friend list are subjected to. It also shows the methods the company deploys to keep a track of its users and their activity. While the Facebook co-founder might not have admitted to recording audio snippets, in light of the recent information it has divulged, especially the part regarding tracking mouse movements, the company seems to be one step short of admitting the same.