Zoom App Source: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore

San Jose, California-based Zoom Video Communications, has seen its popularity grow significantly in recent weeks as companies attempt to keep working from home during the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately, Vice has discovered a major privacy hole regarding the remote video conferencing service. At issue: Zoom sends analytics data to Facebook, even if you're a Zoom user who doesn't have a Facebook account. This circumstance is oh-so-wrong and must be addressed by Zoom immediately.

The issue

The pandemic has forced millions around the world to connect remotely with family, friends, and business associates. One of the most popular tools for this, especially for workers, has been Zoom, which is available across multiple platforms, including iOS.

Zoom, like other apps, uses Facebook's software development kits (SDK) to implement features quickly. In exchange, Facebook gains useful information about users. As Vice's Motherboard explains, Zoom connects to Facebook's Graph API, which is the way developers get data in or out of Facebook.

It explains:

The Zoom app notifies Facebook when the user opens the app, details on the user's device such as the model, the time zone and city they are connecting from, which phone carrier they are using, and a unique advertiser identifier created by the user's device which companies can use to target a user with advertisements.

Facebook not to blame

No matter your feelings on Facebook and how it collects data, the problem here isn't on the social network. Instead, it's Zoom who doesn't address this type of arrangement to users in the company's privacy policy.

In its policy dated March 18, 2020, Zoom only mentions Facebook as it relates to it collecting personal data. And this only happens when a Zoom user logs into the service using a Facebook log-in. Nowhere does Zoom indicate that Facebook also receives user information thanks to the API.

Back in January, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) criticized Ring for pulling similar antics. Ring eventually relented and is tightening its privacy techniques as a result.

Hopefully, the Vice criticism will lead Zoom to make similar changes. In the meantime, you'll need to decide whether you're comfortable with its current arrangement. I find this oversight disturbing and has me rethinking whether to use Zoom in the future.


Do you have any questions about Zoom, Facebook, or privacy? Let us know below.