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What you need to know

  • A report claims that Zoom's iOS app is sending analytics data to Facebook.
  • It happens even if you don't have a Facebook account.
  • A privacy activist described the revelation as "shocking".

Popular iOS app Zoom, which has been thrust into prominence due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, sends data to Facebook even if users don't have a Facebook account.

According to Vice:

As people work and socialize from home, video conferencing software Zoom has exploded in popularity. What the company and its privacy policy don't make clear is that the iOS version of the Zoom app is sending some analytics data to Facebook, even if Zoom users don't have a Facebook account, according to a Motherboard analysis of the app.

This sort of data transfer is not uncommon, especially for Facebook; plenty of apps use Facebook's software development kits (SDK) as a means to implement features into their apps more easily, which also has the effect of sending information to Facebook. But Zoom users may not be aware it is happening, nor understand that when they use one product, they may be providing data to another service altogether.

A privacy activist reportedly stated:

"That's shocking. There is nothing in the privacy policy that addresses that..."

As mentioned, Zoom has become enourmously popular as a video conferencing solution for both work and more social settings due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tool has proven apt at keeping people connected as they are forced to work from home and are unable to have social contact. As the report notes, this sort of data transfer is "uncommon, especially for Facebook". However, as the report rightly suggests, many users who do not use Facebook, or perhaps have chosen not to use Facebook over privacy concerns will likely be alarmed to hear that their data is being shared with the social media giant anyway.

The report claims that Zoom notifies Facebook when a user opens the app, detailing their device, time zone, city, phone carrier and a unique advertised identifier that can be used to target you with ads. According to the report:

Facebook told Motherboard it requires developers to be transparent with users about the data their apps send to Facebook. Facebook's terms say "If you use our pixels or SDKs, you further represent and warrant that you have provided robust and sufficiently prominent notice to users regarding the Customer Data collection, sharing and usage," and specifically for apps, "that third parties, including Facebook, may collect or receive information from your app and other apps and use that information to provide measurement services and targeted ads."

Zoom did not respond to a request for comment, you can read the full report here.