US “Consumer Reports” reveals that Facebook user’s data is being shared

Facebook app

Authoritative American consumer rights media “Consumer Reports” released its latest research a few days ago. The report reveals that Facebook shares the data of its users with many external companies. The recent investigation¬†by Consumer Reports has shed light on the extensive data-sharing practices on Facebook. It reveals that each user’s data is being shared with an astonishing number of companies. The study, which analyzed data from Meta, the parent company of Facebook, found that on average, Facebook collected data on each user from an average of 2,230 companies. This revelation has raised significant concerns about the scale of surveillance and the potential implications for user privacy and data security.

 Facebook data sharing

Scale of Surveillance

The study’s findings are indeed alarming, as they demonstrate the pervasive nature of data collection and sharing on the platform. The research revealed that the data of each participant was shared by an average of 2,230 companies, with some individuals being identified by more than 7,000 companies. This extensive data sharing involves a wide range of entities, including well-known retailers like Home Depot, Macy‚Äôs, and Walmart, as well as credit reporting and consumer data companies such as Experian and TransUnion‚Äôs Neustar, among others.

The study analyzed data from 709 Facebook users and found that each user’s data was shared with an average of 2,230 companies.¬†From a formal point of view,¬†this kind of data sharing is usually completed through server-to-server tracking. It is different from traditional “tracking pixels” and cookies, and users cannot detect this tracking behaviour.

According to reports,¬†there are many types of companies that share user data with Facebook. The report claims that well-known local data broker LiveRamp. At the same time, Amazon and PayPal are also on the list. Of course, tools like cookies and tracking pixels also play a role and shared user data can be used to paint a ‚Äúportrait‚ÄĚ of a user‚Äôs interests and activities.

Meta’s Response

Meta, the company behind Facebook, has defended its data-sharing practices. The company did not deny that it shares user data, however, it said that it is transparent about its collection and use. Meta said

We offer a variety of transparency tools to help people understand the information businesses choose to share with us and manage how it is used¬†.”

Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said,

‚ÄúThis kind of tracking that is completely out of sight of the user goes far beyond what people expect when using the Internet.”

She bluntly said that while users are “likely” aware that Meta has learned what they do on Facebook and Instagram,¬†they don’t expect Meta to know which stores they visit, what news they read, or every website they visit.

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What Data is Being Shared?

The data examined in the study comes from two types of collection: events and custom audiences. Events refer to specific actions taken by users, such as making a purchase or visiting a website. However, custom audiences involve the uploading of customers’ personal information and buying habits to serve targeted ads. This means that a wide array of personal information and online activities are being shared with a vast network of companies. This raises serious questions about user consent and control over their data.

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Implications for Privacy and Regulation

The implications of this extensive data sharing are far-reaching, as it not only raises concerns about user privacy and data security but also underscores the need for robust regulation and oversight of data practices on social media platforms. The study’s findings have reignited the debate on the need for stronger data protection laws and greater transparency around data-sharing practices. With the growing awareness of the scale of surveillance and data sharing, there is an urgent need for regulatory action to ensure that users have greater control over their data and are adequately protected from widespread data collection and sharing practices.

Facebook’s data-sharing practices have been a subject of controversy. Also, Facebook’s data-sharing deals with other companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify, have raised concerns about the scope of data sharing and the potential impact on user privacy. Furthermore, Facebook has been criticized for its lack of transparency and the difficulty researchers face in accessing shareable, independent sources of data from the platform. The company sternly denies this allegation. The company’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal further fueled concerns about data privacy and user consent. Recall that in that scandal, personal data belonging to millions of Facebook users was collected without their consent. The details of this scandal can be found in an article by The New York Times.

Video creators on Facebook

In light of these revelations and controversies, the ethical implications of Facebook’s data-sharing practices are a matter of ongoing debate. Facebook has stated that it does not sell its users’ data. The extent of data sharing and the potential impact on user privacy raises important questions about the rights of users. It also raises questions about the responsibilities of tech companies in handling user data.

Final Words

The Consumer Reports investigation has revealed the staggering extent to which Facebook users’ data is being shared. The report claims that the data are shared with thousands of companies. This calls for immediate attention from regulators and policymakers. The tech industry to address the privacy and security implications of such pervasive data-sharing practices. As users become more aware of the scale of surveillance, there is a pressing need for greater transparency. There is also a need for accountability, and user control over their data on social media platforms.

Author Bio

Efe Udin is a seasoned tech writer with over seven years of experience. He covers a wide range of topics in the tech industry from industry politics to mobile phone performance. From mobile phones to tablets, Efe has also kept a keen eye on the latest advancements and trends. He provides insightful analysis and reviews to inform and educate readers. Efe is very passionate about tech and covers interesting stories as well as offers solutions where possible.

Disclaimer: We may be compensated by some of the companies whose products we talk about, but our articles and reviews are always our honest opinions. For more details, you can check out our editorial guidelines and learn about how we use affiliate links.

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