Facebook and Instagram creator Meta is facing lawsuits for bypassing Apple's privacy rules and tracking users across websites, reports say.
Bloomberg (via Engadget) reports that two iPhone users have filed proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of dodging Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, which was designed to protect user privacy.
The lawsuit said the social media app owner consequently violated federal and state laws preventing unauthorized data gathering.
Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, released in April 2021 as part of the iOS 14.5 update, gives users the power to refuse being tracked by the apps installed on their devices. Users will have to give their consent to Meta apps to track their activities.
Meta opposed this privacy-oriented feature and urged Apple device users to allow themselves to the be tracked. At the time, the social media giant even warned that it would lose $10 billion in ad revenue for this year because of Apple's user privacy-oriented feature.
Disregard for User Privacy
Earlier this year, Felix Krause revealed that Meta is able to keep track of all Facebook and Instagram users' key presses, keyboard inputs and more when users use the said apps' in-app browser.
This means that when a Facebook or Instagram user clicks on any link to a website, for example, Meta will be able to keep track of their interactions such as clicking on ads, screenshots, text selection and more. Worse, it can even keep track of text input, which includes passwords and credit card details.
Meta is able to do this by injecting a tracking code called "Meta Pixel" into all links and websites shown in the apps. This allows Meta to snoop on users' browsing activity without their permission.
While it's virtually impossible for Meta to keep track of user activity when they are using Apple's Safari browser, they are well able to see and monitor everything that a user does when using Facebook and Instagram's browser. This is a direct violation of the ATT feature.
The lawsuit hurled against Meta accuses the company of circumventing Apple's rules protecting user privacy so that it can further increase revenue.
"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," Bloomberg quoted from the lawsuit.
As expected, Meta rejected these allegations and said the lawsuits were "without merit," saying its in-app browsers respect user privacy. It added that it would defend itself "vigorously."