Facebook, just like the rest of Big Tech, has historically made a great effort to track users across the internet, even when they are not logged into the platform, for data collecting and ultimately monetary reasons.
Now, reports say that a new way to achieve this has been recently launched by the giant, and notably, for the first time this type of tracking is made visible. Called Link History, the new feature is found in the Facebook app as essentially one of the permissions, and “documents” every link a user clicks while using the app.
Once again, fully in vein of what Google, Microsoft, etc., are doing, Facebook says the change – putting all links in one place – is there for better user experience, and again habitually, while the feature is not mandatory, it is there by default and “hiding” behind a pretty solid wall of an “opt-out.”
Whatever the case may be, most users don’t bother jumping over that wall, allowing corporations to at once offer a choice – and in most cases have it their way.
In order to deactivate this on their app, users first need to be aware Link History exists, and then navigate to the appropriate setting in order to “opt out.”
But there is no shortage of criticism of this latest move, from the privacy point of view (although mainstream tech press curiously chooses to single out Facebook while praising Google and Apple as some sort of “privacy warriors” now).
This should be viewed as part of the big (political) picture where keeping pressure on Facebook as still the most influential social media is especially important in an election year – while at the same time rightfully questioning Facebook’s (persistent) motivation for pursuing cross-site user tracking.
A classic example of two things getting to be true at the same time.
Facebook (Meta) doesn’t exactly pretend it is working solely to make sure users “never lose a link again” and enjoy other things that benefit them. A part of Link History’s announcement spells this out: “When you allow link history, we may use your information to improve your ads across Meta technologies.”
What the statement doesn’t clarify is if any of the well-known, ultra-invasive methods it uses to track users will actually change in any way with the introduction of Link History.
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