Facebook and Instagram apps can track users via their in-app browsers

If you visit any website you see on Facebook and Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t redirect you to your preferred browser, but to a custom in-app browser. It turns out that these browsers inject Javascript code into every website you visit, allowing parent meta to potentially track you across websites, researcher Felix Krause found.

“The Instagram app injects its tracking code into every website viewed, even when they click on ads, and activates them [to] Monitor all user interactions, like every button and link tapped, text selections, screenshots, as well as all form inputs like passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers,” Krause said in a blog post.

His research focused on the iOS versions of Facebook and Instagram. That’s key, because Apple allows users to opt in or out of app tracking the first time they open an app via App Tracking Transparency (ATT) introduced in iOS 14.5. Meta has previously said that the feature is “a headwind for our 2022 business… on the order of $10 billion.”

Meta said the injected tracking code obeyed user settings on ATT. “The code allows us to aggregate user data before using it for targeted advertising or measurement purposes,” a spokesman said The guard. “We don’t add pixels. Injecting code to allow us to aggregate pixel conversion events.

Krause noted that Facebook doesn’t necessarily use javascript injection to collect sensitive data. However, if the apps opened a user’s preferred browser like Safari or Firefox, there would be no way to perform a similar javascript injection on a secure website. In contrast, the approach taken by Instagram and Facebook’s in-app browsers “works for any website, whether it’s encrypted or not,” he said.

According to Krause’s research, WhatsApp does not modify third-party websites in a similar way. Therefore, he suggests that Meta should do the same with Facebook and Instagram, or just use Safari or another browser to open links. “It’s what’s best for the user and what’s right.” For more information, see the summary of his findings here.

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https://www.engadget.com/meta-can-track-facebook-and-instagram-users-on-ios-with-its-in-app-browsers-071834703.html?src=rss Facebook and Instagram apps can track users via their in-app browsers

Russell Falcon

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