Facebook users Accuse Meta of Tracking On iOS By Exploiting A Flaw And Filing A Lawsuit Against The Business

Meta begins selling blue verified badges on Facebook and Instagram

Has Facebook violated data laws again?

A new complaint claims that Facebook and Instagram parent firm Meta continued to snoop through a loophole despite Apple’s significant privacy update to iOS last year, making it much more difficult for applications to track user behavior outside of their own borders.

The complaint, which is posted below, was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and claims that Meta used Facebook’s in-app browser, which opens links inside the app, to track users in order to get around Apple’s new limits. Anyone impacted, which in the case of Facebook might imply hundreds of millions of U.S. users, could sign on to the planned class-action lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg.

In the case, two Facebook users claim that Meta is not only abusing Apple’s regulations but also state and federal privacy laws, such as the Wiretap Act, which made it unlawful to eavesdrop on electronic conversations without the recipient’s consent. A comparable lawsuit (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.) was submitted just last week.

According to the plaintiffs, Meta tracks users’ internet behavior by directing them to Facebook’s built-in web browser and injecting JavaScript into the websites they visit. This coding enables the business to track “every single contact with external websites,” including the locations of taps and the passwords and other text that users enter:

“Now, even when users do not consent to be tracked, Meta tracks Facebook users’ online activity and communications with external third-party websites by injecting JavaScript code into those sites. When users click on a link within the Facebook app, Meta automatically directs them to the in-app browser it is monitoring instead of the smartphone’s default browser, without telling users that this is happening or they are being tracked.”

When Apple released iOS 14.5 in April of last year, it dealt a devastating blow to social network companies like Meta that rely on user activity tracking for advertising. In its earnings calls, the company notably referenced the iOS changes as it prepared investors to accept the new normal for its ad targeting business. It called Apple’s privacy changes a “headwind” that it would have to fight.