Ever get the creepy feeling someone is watching you?
Well, it’s not a feeling, it’s a fact. If you’re using Instagram and Facebook like the rest of the population, you know they’re spying on everything you do.
Recently, however, it was discovered they developed another more sinister way to pry into your business.
But this time you can do something about it.
As reported on by Tidbits, Meta (Facebook & Instagram’s parent) “injects custom Java code into every website using their custom in-app browser” so that when you click on a link they’ll track you all the way to the website. From there they can watch what you’re doing without your or the provider’s permission. They would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for security researcher Felix Krause who did some digging and outed them.
According to Tidbits, Meta’s excuse was that the code “helps aggregate events like online purchases before the Facebook platform uses those events for targeted advertising and measurement.” What? That’s a confusing quote, but hey that was their smoke and mirror response for tracking you.
So, to deconstruct their mumbo jumbo here’s how they’re collecting information on you.
You see a targeted ad on Instagram or Facebook of some killer shoes you have to have. You click directly on the link, and it takes you to the site where you shell out your dough – bing bang boom new platforms on the way! Thrilled with your purchase you go on with your life and think nothing of it. But here’s what just happened, you brought a little friend along shopping – her name is META! No thanks Meta, you weren’t invited, and you’re not hip enough to wear these shoes anyhow.
As Meta follows you, according to Krause, she may play nice and do nothing, but be aware she can monitor all sorts of private information you’re not interested in sharing like passwords, credit card numbers and more. It doesn’t mean she will, just that she CAN. That leaves you vulnerable which is not a good thing to be with a girl like Meta who will act like your BFF one second, then stab you in the back the next.
So, what do you do? For once it’s a totally simple fix that won’t take a PhD to figure out.
Instead of clicking directly on the link, just scoot on up to those three dots at the top of your app and click it. A menu will pop up and you can choose to “Open in Browser.” And like that, you’ve bypassed the privacy concern and left Meta behind lamenting she can’t hang with you. Yay!
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota, where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names). Email Alyssa via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: iStock.com/hapabapa