As has now been announced, Facebook collects data that provide information about the geographical positioning of the user even if the location tracking option is switched off. This information includes IP addresses, locations of photos shared on Facebook and location information provided in Facebook postings.
Facebook has now acknowledged this data collection practice in a three-page letter published on Twitter by US Senator Josh Hawley. Hawley states that the collection of the data is for the purpose of playing out personalized advertising and generating revenue through this practice. He sees a need for action by the US Parliament, which he believes should take up the matter.
.@Facebook admits it. Turn off “location services” and they’ll STILL track your location to make money (by sending you ads). There is no opting out. No control over your personal information. That’s Big Tech. And that’s why Congress needs to take action https://t.co/R1LuLcP1LP
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 17, 2019
Facebook itself refers in the published letter to several uses of the collected data. In addition to the use of personalised advertising, the letter also refers to account security, which is to be increased by collecting data. The user will be notified of any success in logging into a particular Facebook account from a location from which it is not usually accessed. In addition, the collection of this personal information is used to combat fake news, but the extent to which the location data is useful for this purpose is not disclosed.
The group also pointed out that it has set up special teams that are exclusively concerned with collecting and evaluating location data. These teams are to ensure that no overly detailed data is collected when site tracking is switched off. According to Facebook, the collection of location data in this case is limited to the city or postcode area in which the user is located. However, this commandment is by no means absolute: in certain exceptional cases, Facebook will also collect more precise location data. However, this will be done in accordance with the AGB.
Hawley points out in his Twitter entry that there is no opt-out option whatsoever. Users who use Facebook’s services would not have the opportunity to object to the collection of location data. Facebook confirms this: even if users deactivate the location option and thus deny Facebook access to the GPS data of the device, for example, the data will be collected, but then by other means.