Facebook offered a revealing explanation to lawmakers for why it continues to track users' locations even after those users turn Facebook's location tracking services off.
Responding to a letter from Sen. Josh Hawley, (R-MO), and Sen. Chris Coons, (D-DE), Facebook said it needs that extra location data to target ads, and for various security functions.
The two senators asked Facebook last month to "respect" users' decisions to keep their locations private.
Coons and Hawley now say that Facebook needs to give users more control over their data.
I say, delete Facebook.
In a letter dated December 12 that was released Tuesday, Facebook explained how it is able to estimate users' locations used to target ads even when they've chosen to reject location tracking through their smartphone's operating system.
Facebook said that even when location tracking is turned off, it can deduce users' general locations from context clues like locations they tag in photos as well as their devices' IP addresses. While this data is not as precise as Facebook would collect with location tracking enabled, the company said it uses the information for several purposes, including alerting users when their accounts have been accessed in an unusual place and clamping down on the spread of false information.
Facebook acknowledged it also targets ads based on the limited location information it receives when users turn off or limit tracking. Facebook doesn't allow users to turn off location-based ads, although it does allow users to block Facebook from collecting their precise location, the company wrote.
"By necessity, virtually all ads on Facebook are targeted based on location, though most commonly ads are targeted to people with a particular city or some larger region," the company wrote. "Otherwise, people in Washington, D.C. would receive ads for services or events in London, and vice versa."
Here was Hawley's tweeted response.
.@Facebook admits it. Turn off "location services" and they'll STILL track your location to make money (by sending you ads). There is no opting out. No control over your personal information. That's Big Tech. And that's why Congress needs to take action https://t.co/R1LuLcP1LP
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 17, 2019
Go read the whole CNBC piece here: