Lawmakers Question Facebook About User Location Tracking

Of all Facebook’s troubling privacy practices, location tracking might be the most invasive. After all, the social media giant can basically follow you anywhere on the planet using nothing more than its app. And this fall, Facebook quietly published a blog post explaining that it can even track users who opt out of letting it collect their data. That’s why two U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week pressing him to answer questions about how the company gathers this location data.

According to Facebook itself, it can determine your location through check-ins and internet connections even if you’ve chosen to turn off location tracking. In their letter, Sen. Josh Hawley and Sen. Chris Coons blasted Facebook for this practice and demanded to know whether this data is shared with third parties.

“If a user has decided to limit Facebook’s access to his or her location, Facebook should respect these privacy choices,” the senators wrote. “Given that most mobile devices are connected to the internet nearly all the time, whether through a cellular network or a Wi-Fi connection, this practice would allow Facebook to collect user location data almost constantly, irrespective of the user’s privacy preferences. Users who have selected a restrictive Location Services option could reasonably be under the misimpression that their selection limits all of Facebook’s efforts to extract location information.”

Stories like this are proof that Facebook is under a lot more public pressure than it used to be — and that’s a good thing for protecting our privacy.

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