More Ways Creepy Facebook Spies on You


The creepy ways Facebook spies on its users have been detailed in a bumper document presented to Congress.


They include tracking mouse movements, logging battery levels and monitoring devices close to a user that are on the same network.


The 454-page report was created in response to questions Mark Zuckerberg was asked during his appearance before Congress in April.


Lawmakers gave Zuckerberg a public grilling over the Cambridge Analytica, but he failed to answer many of their queries.


The new report attempts address their concerns, but it sheds little new light on the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


However, it does contain multiple disclosures about the way Facebook collects data.


Some are unsurprising, such as the time people spend on Facebook, while others may come as a shock to the majority of users.


Device information


Facebook tracks what device you using to access its social media.


To do this, it will log the hardware manufacturer of your smartphone, connected television, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device.


Facebook also tracks the operating system, software versions and web browser.


If you’re using a smartphone, it will also keep a record of the mobile carrier, while internet service providers (ISPs) will be stored for users using a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection to access Facebook.


Mouse movements


Facebook watches the movements of your computer mouse on-screen when you are interacting with the social network.


The company says it does so to help fight against bots on the social network.


App and file names


Tracking the app you use to interact with Facebook helps the company learn the types of devices you favour.


Facebook keeps a note of the file names in your system for the same reason.


This data is synced with your profile, and will influence the types of advertisements you see when you launch Facebook.


Device operations


Facebook wants to learn about how you use its social network.


To do so, it records whether you keep your Facebook browser window at the foreground of your computer screen – or whether you tend to leave it in the background, hidden behind other windows.


Facebook also watches the ‘operations and behaviours performed on the device’ while you’re active on the social network.


‘We collect information about how you use our Products, such as the types of content you view or engage with; the features you use; the actions you take; the people or accounts you interact with; and the time, frequency and duration of your activities,’ Facebook says.


‘For example, we log when you’re using and have last used our Products, and what posts, videos, and other content you view on our Products.


‘We also collect information about how you use features like our camera.’


Device connections


The social network monitors a slew of different connections from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or smart TV.


It monitors the signal strength of your mobile data connection (if you’re using one), Bluetooth signals, and information about the nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers.


This data can be used to establish whether you typically use Facebook in one particular location, or when you’re on-the-move.


Nearby access points, beacons and cell towers can also be used to work out a rough location for the users, which Facebook can use to tailor search results and adverts.


Devices that are nearby


Facebook admits that it gathers information about other devices that are nearby or on the same Wi-Fi network when you login or open the app.


The Menlo Park-based company says it tracks this data to help users perform tasks that require multiple devices, like streaming a video from their phone to their TV.


‘We collect information from and about the computers, phones, connected TVs and other web-connected devices our users use that integrate with our Products, and we combine this information across a user’s different devices,’ Facebook said.


This is yet another part of the company’s effort to create a more personalized Facebook experience, according to the firm.


‘To create personalized Products that are unique and relevant to them, we use their connections, preferences, interests and activities based on the data we collect and learn from them and others (including any data with special protections they choose to provide)’ Facebook says.


This means they also log ‘how they use and interact with our Products; and the people, places, or things they’re connected to and interested in on and off our Products,’ the firm says.


Battery level


Battery level of your device is being monitored by Facebook.


The company says it tracks ‘hardware changes’ on any devices running its service.


This data could be used to track the impact the Facebook app is having on battery life of the device, however, previous research from Princeton University claimed battery life data alone could be used to track individuals across the web.


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