It’s no secret that Facebook uses user data to its advantage. Facebook has become one of the world’s largest advertising platforms due to its successful monetization of user data.
But a new report shows that Facebook doesn’t just monitor your user data – the social network also reportedly has an internal system that tracks your phone habits to determine which ideas to “steal” next.
That report comes from the Wall Street Journal, which claims Facebook has an internal system that tracks up-and-coming apps on your phone. Facebook analyzes this data, then decides which ideas they want to copy from smaller startups and companies.
Facebook is reportedly using monitoring technology created by Onavo, an Israeli startup acquired by Facebook in 2013.
Basically, Facebook is checking which apps user use on their phones, then using that information to decide which ideas to copy next.
You know how Facebook has a “disappearing stories” feature similar to Snapchat (and later, Instagram)? It’s possible that Facebook was developing that technology for months after spotting the rise of Snapchat using Onavo’s technology.
How Does Facebook’s SMS Tracking Software Work?
There’s no evidence that Facebook tracks SMS messages at this point. However, it seems that the social network monitors many other crucial interactions on your phone.
Facebook reportedly routes mobile usage through a third party server, which “gives Facebook an unusually detailed look at what users collectively do on their phones”, according to the report.
Basically, Facebook is accused of monitoring your app usage even when it takes place outside of Facebook’s app. That’s creepy and intrusive.
Facebook May Have Used Tracking to Influence the Launch of Its Group Video Chat Feature
The WSJ alleges that Facebook has used this tactic to copy successful ideas from smaller companies, then market them to their own Facebook audience.
In one specific example, Facebook allegedly used tactics like this to monitor a group video chat app called Houseparty. Facebook then used this data to launch a “remarkably similar” group video chat feature in its popular Messenger application.
This is just the one example we know about. It’s unclear how many other times Facebook may have used a similar process to capitalize on ideas.
Some will call Facebook’s alleged activities “smart capitalism”. Others will call it an invasion of privacy. But for many people concerned about SMS tracking and other invasive mobile exploits, it’s just another reason to remove the Facebook app from your phone.