Facebook and Snapchat are using a loophole to collect data from users who have opted out of app tracking on iOS

One of iOS 14’s most significant features was App Tracking Transparency (ATT) which forces apps to ask users permission to whether or not they want their data to be collected by third-party developers. According to a new report, companies such as Facebook and Snapchat continue tracking users across other apps and services even when they have asked not to be tracked.

App Tracking Transparency

Some companies are still tracking iOS users who have opted out of app tracking 

As reported by The Financial Times, many companies including Snapchat and Facebook “have been allowed to keep sharing user-level signals from iPhones, as long as that data is anonymized and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.” The publication said that Apple allowing companies to gather this data was the result of “an unacknowledged shift that lets companies follow a much looser interpretation of its controversial privacy policy.”

The tech giant has instructed developers that they “may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it,” which some developers have analyzed to mean that they can observe “signals” from an iPhone at a group level allowing them to tailor advertising with certain behaviors but not associated with unique IDs.

Last month, it was found that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature impacted Meta (formerly Facebook), Snapchat Inc, YouTube, and Twitter heavily in the second half of 2021. Out of four major social media companies, Meta and Snapchat were the most affected. 

Snapchat has informed its investors that it’s selling the data of 306 million users to advertisers. And Facebook is working on a multi-year effort to track users in an anonymized way following Apple’s release of ATT.

Back in September, it was also discovered that at least three popular iPhone games including Subway Surfers were sending explicit user data to third-party advertising companies, even after users did now allow for their information to be collected. The information included a user’s IP address, remaining free storage, battery level, screen resolution, and more.

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About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.

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