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Facebook and Instagram would bypass Apple’s advertising protections



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The American group Meta was accused on August 10, 2022 of not respecting the rules put in place by Apple to prevent users of its products from being tracked by applications. The two main social networks he owns, Facebook and Instagram, use unconventional methods to achieve this, and thus circumvent the advertising protections of the Apple brand.

The integration of an internal browser to track Apple users?

The founder of the analysis tool Fastlane, Felix Krause, explained in a blog post the techniques that Facebook and Instagram use to be able to continue to track its community while circumventing the protections put in place by Apple.

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First of all, these two applications do not hesitate to use their own internal browser to redirect its users when they click on an external link. For example, when a person is going to browse his news feed from his iPhone and come across an article or a video that interests him, by clicking on it, he will be redirected to this content not thanks to the Safari browser (or any other browser), but thanks to the browser integrated by Meta in its applications.

But then what is the problem? Well, this piece of code, which was originally designed to provide quick access to external links, contains a cookie which, according to Felix Krause, allows ” track every interaction with websites, from entering passwords and addresses to every single click “. Facebook and Instagram have reportedly opted for this solution since Safari blocked third-party cookies in 2020 and Google is working on a way to remove them within the next two years.

Facebook considers these accusations to be based on a misunderstanding of its tools

This feature only concerns mobile applications. If an Internet user decides to go to one of the two social networks via a browser such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox, he will not be confronted with this problem. However, Felix Krause explains that with ” one billion active users on Instagram, the amount of data the app can collect […] is considerable “.

Since the release of iOS 14.5, Apple has implemented a tool, App Tracking Transparency, to limit the tracking of its users. Internet users concerned about their privacy can, for example, prohibit the creation of a unique advertising identifier shared by all the applications installed on their iPhone.

Technically, the method used by Facebook and Instagram is not illegal. By tracking user activity through the application’s internal browser, Meta does not violate any rules put in place by Apple, but they circumvent them. It should also be noted that there is currently no evidence that this information is concrete.

Finally, a Facebook spokesperson said that Felix Krause had misunderstood the operation of certain components used by their applications, including the integrated browser as well as the “Meta Pixel”, a code made available to sites. and allowing the company to obtain data. In October 2021, the social network created by Mark Zuckerberg published a press release which presented how it was adapting to the restrictions put in place by Apple.




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