After Apple updated its privacy rules in 2021 to easily allow iOS users to opt out of all tracking by third-party apps, so many people opted out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that Meta lost $10 billion in revenue over the next year.
Meta's business model depends on selling user data to advertisers, and it seems that the owner of Facebook and Instagram sought new paths to continue widely gathering data and to recover from the suddenly lost revenue. Last month, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, Felix Krause, alleged that one way Meta sought to recover its losses was by directing any link a user clicks in the app to open in-browser, where Krause reported that Meta was able to inject a code, alter the external websites, and track “anything you do on any website,” including tracking passwords, without user consent.
Now, within the past week, two class action lawsuits  from three Facebook and iOS users—who point directly to Krause's research—are suing Meta on behalf of all iOS users impacted, accusing Meta of concealing privacy risks, circumventing iOS user privacy choices, and intercepting, monitoring, and recording all activity on third-party websites viewed in Facebook or Instagram's browser. This includes form entries and screenshots granting Meta a secretive pipeline through its in-app browser to access “personally identifiable information, private health details, text entries, and other sensitive confidential facts”—seemingly without users even knowing the data collection is happening.
In the meantime, the lawsuits say there is an easy way to stop Meta from collecting this info. Instead of clicking on links shared on Facebook or Instagram, copy and paste them directly into your preferred browser.
I have written so much about Facebook and its fucked-up ways that I get tired of repeating myself. But I think it’s important to continue shining a light on the shit that they continue to do. This time specifically targeting iOS users.
Looking for a private email service? We break down the similarities and differences between Fastmail and Protonmail.
Fastmail, however, provides more of the features users expect from an email service, including an easy-to-use calendar and a powerful search function.
Another huge difference that sets Fastmail apart is that it offers users the ability to create hundreds of aliases. This allows you to decide which email address is used for what. This increases the level of privacy and puts more control in your hands. Also, Fastmail’s customer service and support are quick to respond, friendly, and are email experts happy to apply their knowledge to your situation.
When my colleague and I reported on this, experts we spoke with were of two minds about Apple’s attempts to prevent nefarious use, with some saying the alerts were inadequate and others praising the company for unearthing a larger problem: widespread surreptitious tracking, usually done with devices that don’t notify a person of their presence.
I decided to examine both claims by planting three AirTags, three Tiles, and a GPS tracker on my husband and his belongings to see how precisely they revealed his movements and which ones he discovered.
This is a story of how, over six weeks, I cut them out of my own life and tried to prevent them from knowing about me or monetizing me in any way—not just by putting my iPhone in a drawer for a week or only buying local, but by really, truly blocking these companies from accessing me and vice versa. I wanted to find out how hard it would be—or if I could even do it—given that these tech giants dominate the internet in so many invisible ways that it’s hard to even know them all.
It’s not just logging off of Facebook; it’s logging off the countless websites that use Facebook to log in. It’s not just using DuckDuckGo instead of Google search; it’s abandoning my email, switching browsers, giving up a smartphone, and living life without mapping apps. It’s not just refusing to buy toilet paper on Amazon.com; it’s being blocked from reading giant swaths of the internet that are hosted on Amazon servers, giving up websites and apps that I didn’t previously know were connected to the biggest internet giant of them all.
People have done thought experiments before about which of the “frightful five” it would be hardest to live without, but I thought it would be more illuminating, if painful, to do an actual experiment: I would try to block a tech giant each week, to tell the tale of life without it. At the end of those five weeks, I’d try to block all of them at once. God help me.
Just about everything you do on, with, and around an Amazon product or service is logged and recorded. Sure, you might not be surprised to learn that when you visit Amazon’s website, the company logs your browsing history and shopping data. But it goes far beyond that. Since Amazon owns Whole Foods, it also saves your shopping history there. When you watch video content through its platforms, it records all of that information, too.
Unfortunately, while you can access this data, Amazon doesn’t make it possible to delete much of it. You can tweak your privacy settings you stop your devices from recording quite as much information. However, once logged, the main strategy to delete it is to delete the entire account it is associated with. But even if you can’t delete the data while sticking with your account, you do have a right to see what data Amazon has on you, and it’s simple to request.
How to download all of your Amazon data
Go to Amazon’s Help page. You’ll find the link under Security and Privacy > More in Security & Privacy > Privacy > How Do I Request My Data? Once there, click the “Request My Data” link.
Reading this article a few days ago, made me curious to know what Amazon knows about me. So, I decided to request a download of all the data that Amazon has collected on me.
I won't go into the detail of the data, but I'll tell you it is a lot of information. If you're curious to know what Amazon knows about you, go ahead and make a request. As a side note, it took Amazon a couple of weeks to email the link to the downloadable data to me.
The companies are working together on a new proposal for ad interaction tracking
Mozilla, owner, and developer of the Firefox browser, has attacked Facebook (now Meta) many times over the years for the company’s disastrous record on privacy and security. However, the two companies are now working together on a proposal for slightly more private online advertising, which is already drawing criticism from long-time fans of Mozilla.
Mozilla in a blog post on Tuesday, “For the last few months we have been working with a team from Meta (formerly Facebook) on a new proposal that aims to enable conversion measurement – or attribution – for advertising called Interoperable Private Attribution, or IPA. IPA aims to provide advertisers with the ability to perform attribution while providing strong privacy guarantees. IPA has two key privacy-preserving features. First, it uses Multi-Party Computation (MPC) to avoid allowing any single entity — websites, browser makers, or advertisers — to learn about user behavior.”
My first response after reading this was “You've got to be fucking kidding me!” I have been using Firefox ever since I've been using a computer. And that's a long time! Today it's second fiddle behind Safari but I still use it several times a week.
I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do about this? I am pro-Mozilla, but I'm much more anti-Facebook. As of today, Brave is on my Mac.