Facebook responds to what data it collects when you#39;re not logged in and why


Amid the raging Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy, Product Management Director of the company, David Baser tried to answer some “hard questions” and clarified about the data it collects and how it employs to its own benefit or in order to provide “better” services.

Baser confirmed that Facebook collects data even when you are not logged into your Facebook account.

Suppose you are using any other website or app, most likely that website would be using one of the Facebook services be it the social plugins, Facebook logins, Facebook Analytics or Facebook ads and measurement tools. Baser said when you use those websites or apps, Facebook collects data to show relevant ads, make other sites more social and “help” them “better understand how people use their services”.

“Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them. Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services,” he said.

“Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google, and Twitter all offer login features. These companies — and many others — also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.”

Whenever you visit other websites, Facebook, either through its services on those websites or through the cookies (basically a form of code which tracks users’ activities over the internet) stored on your browser, collects location, browser information including your past activities and operating system, among others.

Mind you, most information which Facebook or other websites collect are vital to render meaningful services. Suppose, for example, if Facebook didn’t collect your location then it would display the content in some random language, say Serbian or any Nordic language which you might not know. Tracking your location instructs it to display its content in a relevant language.

Addressing the question about how it uses the collected data, Baser refuted that Facebook ever sells user data. He said, “I want to be clear: We don’t sell people’s data. Period.”

Baser said that Facebook uses collected data for mainly three things—providing services like Facebook plugins, Facebook Analytics, and ads; keeping user’s information secure; and improving services like keeping posts about things you care (cats, your favourite TV shows, political leanings, etc.) at the top of your news feed.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had last week in a series of hearing in US Congress had answered over 500 questions from Senators over privacy and data protection at Facebook. The clarifications by Baser is the follow up of that testimony.