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Travel Apps Like TripAdvisor Accused Of Sharing Personal User Information To Facebook

By Sharelle Burt

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Sorry travelers, but your information has once again been compromised. Travel apps like Kayak and TripAdvisor have been accused of sharing information to Facebook without consent.

The Boston Globe reports that tests were performed on 30 or more Android smartphone apps and found that close to 20 of them shared user information with Facebook as soon as they launched, even if the user didn’t have a Facebook account. Scary. London-based group Privacy International, who issued the report, said that Facebook would get a special code that would identify the phone using the app and then, after collecting data for months or years, would get data on the travelers’ travel habits.

RELATED: Massive Data Breach May Have Exposed Personal Information Of Up To 500 Million Marriott Guests

“For most people, it’ll come as a big surprise that an app that doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook is sending your data to Facebook,” Privacy International researcher Frederike Kaltheuner said. “It’s definitely a violation of the spirit of the law.” Lots of travel companies believe Facebook has been aggressive in targeting user data from Android apps, tarnishing the remainder trust users have. Facebook has been involved in a series of privacy scandals, including sharing personally identifiable information for close to 87 million users. It was reported by the New York Times back in December that the social network gave Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the rights to read, write and delete users’ private messages.

Facebook blamed app developers. “Developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances,” Facebook said in a statement. “We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users’ information.”

It’s unknown what Facebook does with their data, Kaltheuner admits. The group plans to run the same test with iPhone apps.


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