Facebook Meta users are suing, accusing the company of tracking on iOS through a vulnerability • TechCrunch


An apple Major privacy update for iOS The past year has made it difficult for apps to track user behavior beyond their borders, but a new lawsuit alleges Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta has continued snooping through a workaround.

The complaint, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California and included below, alleges that Meta evaded Apple’s new restrictions by monitoring users through Facebook’s in-app browser, which opens links within the app. Proposed class action lawsuit, first reported by BloombergAnyone affected could be allowed to log in, which in the case of Facebook could mean hundreds of millions of users in the US.

In the lawsuit, a pair of Facebook users claim that Meta violates not only Apple policies, but state and federal privacy laws, including Telephone wiretapping, making it illegal to intercept electronic communications without consent. Another similar complaint (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.) was filed last week.

Prosecutors allege that Meta tracks users’ online activity by directing them to Facebook’s built-in web browser and injecting JavaScript into the sites they visit. This code allows the company to monitor “every individual interaction with external websites”, including where you click and what passwords and other texts you enter:

Now, even when users do not consent to the tracking, Meta tracks Facebook users’ online activity and connections with external third-party websites by injecting JavaScript code into those sites. When users click a link within the Facebook app, Meta automatically directs them to the browser within the app it’s monitoring instead of the smartphone’s default browser, without telling users that this happened or that they’re being tracked.

Apple introduced iOS 14.5 in April last year, resulting in a strong hit to me social media companies Like Meta, which relied on tracking users’ behavior for advertising purposes. The company cited the iOS changes specifically in earning calls as it prepares investors to adapt to the new normal for its ad targeting business, calling Apple’s privacy changes a “headwind” that must be overcome.

In the new iOS privacy prompt, Apple asks if a user agrees to have their activity tracked “across other companies’ apps and sites.” Users who choose to opt out may reasonably believe they are using an external web browser when opening links within Facebook or Instagram, although the company would likely argue the opposite.

Security researcher Felix Krause Concerns about in-app browsers have surfaced on Facebook and Instagram Last month, the lawsuit drew heavily from his report. Meta urged sending users to Safari or another external browser to plug the loophole.

“Do what Meta already does with WhatsApp: stop modifying third-party sites, and use Safari or SFSafariViewController for all third-party sites,” Krause wrote in a blog post. “It’s what’s best for the user, and the right thing to do.”



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