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Facebook Tracks Your Location Even if You Say No and Turn Off Location Services

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Last Updated: December 19, 2019, 17:29 IST

Image for Representation

Image for Representation

In Facebook's own admission, it uses information from posts as well as device IPs to determine user location, even with location services switched off.

Facebook seemingly tracks your location even after a user explicitly switches off location services for Facebook and all of its apps. The rather surprising piece of information comes from Facebook itself, which disclosed in a response letter to two US senators how it has a three-layer approach to tracking its users. According to Facebook, this is all done in order to continue offering targeted advertisements, through which it makes its money from third party commodity marketers on its platform.

According to a letter shared with senators Christopher Coons and Josh Hawley, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman, stated that there are three ways in which Facebook tracks a user's location. The first, which are permissions to a device's location services, are often turned off by users in order to prevent Facebook from knowing where they are. However, on the contrary, Facebook then switches to its second method, where it uses information from what a user posts, or gets tagged in, to determine where they are.

These posts, which Facebook considers as location information shared with it by its users, are used to determine whether, for instance, a user is at a particular restaurant. Facebook then uses its third method, which involves reading into a device's IP address, to further corroborate the approximate location and activity of a user, and then serves them with ads that are contextual to the location. In other words, the effect of such targeted ads is the same as an environment of constant surveillance — one where sales representatives can constantly peep in at you, whenever they want.

The response from Facebook has since been met with justified criticism, and while a direct legal action as a result of this response seems unlikely right now, it now remains to be seen whether Facebook faces any considerable action based on the blatant practices they undertake, and what answer they give to that. As of now, however, it appears that no degree of denying Facebook from explicit permission keeps them from gathering whatever data they aim to collect from users, and use it to their benefit.