Popular Android apps are sharing data with Facebook without consent

Your phone may be talking to Facebook even if you don't use Facebook

Your phone may be talking to Facebook even if you don't use

A study has revealed that close to 20 Android apps on Play Store automatically send the user's data to Facebook without their consent, raising privacy concerns. 61 percent of the apps that were tested were sending data to Facebook as soon as the user opened the app.

A "profile" could be based on the European legal sense of it-an online identity that a user creates for herself-or Facebook's own definition, which she says could be as simple as, "having a profile of you waiting for you when you sign up".

Privacy International studied 34 popular Android apps to see if they send data to Facebook without a user's permission.

Privacy International said it tested both opt-outs recommended in Facebook's Cookies Policy, and found "no discernable impact" on the data shared. The report found that some apps are sending to Facebook "incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive" information.

The findings of the investigation raise questions about Facebook's transparency when it comes to handling user (and non-user) data, and the privacy implications of profiling by the social networking behemoth - particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Looking at this information, even if your name is unknown, your religion, health, gender, activities, interests and routines can be determined.

Privacy International notes that approximately 68% of app developers haven't implemented this fix and still work with Facebook's default settings. "For example, an individual who has installed the following apps that we have tested, "Qibla Connect" (a Muslim prayer app), "Period Tracker Clue" (a period tracker), "Indeed" (a job search app), "My Talking Tom" (a children's' app), could be potentially profiled as likely female, likely Muslim, likely job seeker, likely parent", said Privacy International.

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In a response to Privacy International, Facebook acknowledged that developers didn't have the option to disable transmission of the "SDK initialized" data before June. After a year of damage control which saw Facebook dealing with multiple data slips, leaked emails and a congressional summons, people are far less okay with Zuckerberg being a perpetual third wheel.

You can check out the full report - entitled How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook (even if you don't have a Facebook account) - on the Privacy International website.

Coming in for special treatment was the Kayak travel booking app, which passed data to Facebook with each search within the app: time of the search; departure and arrival city, airport, and date; and number and class of tickets.

"It is hard to protect yourself from the kind of data sharing that we have described in this report", Privacy International said.

Now Facebook will just have to figure out you've taken a flight by the airport check-ins and braggy photographs you upload when overseas.

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