Turning Off Location Tracking Won’t Stop Facebook From Tracking You

Facebook’s privacy settings seem to have little if any impact on whether or not they are collecting your data. Researcher Aleksandra Korolova tried to have Facebook stop tracking her.

She turned off Facebook’s access to her phone’s location, and switched off “Location History.” She does not list her city in her Facebook profile and she doesn’t post photos, she follows the same protocol for the rest of the Facebook’s apps she uses: Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. She doesn’t tag her location in posts and doesn’t check in to locations where she goes.

Despite all of her efforts, she is still shown ads for businesses near her home and work, and the places she travels, all labeled as being shown because Facebook detected she was “recently near their business.”

Based on Facebook’s marketing materials to advertisers, Aleksandra thinks they’re finding her location from her IP address, cell-site data, nearby WiFi networks and Bluetooth spotting, or simply put, by every means possible.

The harm of not allowing users control over their own location information being shared is amplified when considering what Facebook provides to advertisers to target people based on that information.

If you don’t mind Facebook knowing your location you will be comforted to know that they know exactly where you are. Facebook says “we can use these customers’ Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signatures to pinpoint their locations even more accurately” and “location updates can occur even when the Facebook app is closed.”



Image adapted from: “Lunch, listing restaurants” by Peter Hellberg is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0