Meta Sued Over Tracking iPhone Users Despite Apple's Privacy Features

Meta is facing a new proposed class action lawsuit that accuses it of tracking and collecting the personal data of iPhone users, despite features and policies made by Apple which are meant to stop that same type of tracking.

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In August, it was revealed that with the Facebook and Instagram apps, Meta can track all of a user's key taps, keyboard inputs, and more, when using the in-app browser. When a user clicks on a link on Instagram, for example, Meta can monitor their interactions, text selections, and even text input, such as passwords and private credit card details within that website.

This practice of tracking users is a direct violation of Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy, which requires apps to ask for user consent before tracking them across apps and websites owned by other companies.

Filed on Wednesday in San Francisco federal court, a new lawsuit accuses Meta of this violation, as reported by Bloomberg Law. The proposed class action lawsuit accuses Meta of violating Apple's ATT framework and state and federal laws by collecting user data without user consent within its Facebook and Instagram apps.

In most apps on the ‌iPhone‌, developers use Apple's Safari to open links within their apps. Meta, however, has developed a custom-made in-app browser based on Apple's WebKit framework for Instagram and Facebook. Meta's browser allows it to inject a tracking JavaScript code named "Meta Pixel" into all links and websites shown.

The lawsuit accuses Meta of using the in-app browser on Facebook and Instagram as a way to circumvent rules enforced by Apple to prevent unwanted tracking of users. "This allows Meta to intercept, monitor, and record its users' interactions and communications with third parties, providing data to Meta that it aggregates, analyzes, and uses to boost its advertising revenue," the lawsuit says, according to Bloomberg Law.

Since its introduction in June 2021, Meta has been a vocal opposer of Apple's ATT policy, claiming it would hurt small businesses that rely on personalized ads.

Meta claimed in a full-page newspaper ad that Apple was hurting the ability of small businesses to grow, since if users opt-out of tracking, they're less likely to see ads personalized and recommended for them. Apple's ATT framework has had an impact on Meta's business as it's expected to lose $10 billion in revenue this year alone.

Update: A Meta spokesperson has provided MacRumors with the following statement:

These allegations are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously. We have designed our in-app browser to respect users' privacy choices, including how data may be used for ads.

Tag: Meta

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Top Rated Comments

Sciomar Avatar
24 months ago
He and his entire company need to be brought to their knees, they will never learn from little slaps on the wrist. Make it excruciatingly painful for everyone involved and bring in external compliance auditors who rotate annually, on Meta’s dime.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Imperial926 Avatar
24 months ago
Looks like I made the right decision. Yesterday I downloaded all my material from Facebook and left. My wife left it several months ago. I have now ditched everything except YouTube.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacGizmo Avatar
24 months ago
I normally hate these class-action lawsuits, but this is one I might actually participate in if it comes to that. Meta needs to be taken down a peg or two, in my opinion.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MayaUser Avatar
24 months ago
Thank god
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazmac Avatar
24 months ago
Great news! Let the battle of a thousand overpriced lawyers begin!
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
24 months ago
Ouch, this one will likely hurt.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)