US officials call for enhanced Facebook user control - Mobile World Live

US officials call for enhanced Facebook user control

18 DEC 2019

Facebook again came under fire for allegedly gathering user location data without consent, as US politicians continued to express concern about the ways the social media giant obtains personal information and reiterated calls for increased user control.

Senators Josh Hawley and Christopher Coons criticised the social media giant’s response to concerns they raised in November, after Facebook explained the ways it can obtain data about users’ location.

Hawley posted Facebook’s response on Twitter. In it, the company explained it can access users’ data when given direct consent, but also noted it can track location data from a device’s IP address and through people’s activity on the platform, including when a user uploads a location-tagged post, is tagged by a friend or responds to an event.

Facebook noted a user’s actions “would give us information about that person’s likely location” rather than their exact position.

The company explained location-related information helped to enable connections between people, showing “things relevant to where you are and to improve ads”, and keeping “people and our platform safe, like recognising if people’s accounts have been compromised”.

It also argued its approach contributed to halting the spread of false news.

In a response, Hawley commented there was no means to opt-out of location tracking and argued customers don’t have control over their personal information. He pleaded to the US Congress to take action in resolving the matter.

Coons, meanwhile, told CNBC: “Facebook claims that users are in control of their own privacy, but in reality, users aren’t even given an option to stop Facebook from collecting and monetising their location information”.

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Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Yanitsa joins Mobile World Live as a Reporter based in London. She has more than 5 years’ experience at various media outlets in her home country Bulgaria. She started her career as a political reporter, followed by taking editor roles...

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