KEY POINTS

  • Facebook responded to the inquiry of US senators about  location services
  • It admits that it can pinpoint a person's location based on several available data
  • Facebook says there are many advantages to being able to determine users' location 

Smartphone users will no longer be surprised hearing that social networking site Facebook tracks their location even when users already ask it not to. Tech giants like Facebook have access to data that can help them pinpoint the precise location even if users explicitly refused Facebook apps from gaining access to their location. Interestingly, Facebook admits this and also explained to US senators how it works.

Facebook recently sent an explanation to US senators when it was asked about its location tracking policies. The senators asked the tech giant to reveal how it learns users’ location and whether it still tracks them when they opt out of location tracking service. The Hill reported the response of the company.

In addition to using IP addresses to collect location information about someone, Facebook can also gather information form other actions. This includes users saying they will attend a certain event in a particular location. Addresses include locations, which may sometimes may not be precise in terms of mobile devices connecting through telecommunication services that might only indicate a town or a city.

Facebook contended that knowing a user's whereabouts has benefits ranging from showing ads for nearby shops to fighting hackers Facebook contended that knowing a user's whereabouts has benefits ranging from showing ads for nearby shops to fighting hackers Photo: AFP / DENIS CHARLET

The social network also affirmed that being able to determine the whereabouts of the user has several benefits. This includes showing ads for shops nearby, battling misinformation, and fighting hackers.

When location services is off, Facebook may still understand people’s locations using information people share through their activities on Facebook or through IP addresses and other network connections they use.

As part of using Facebook, people may provide Facebook with specific information about their location … They may check-in at a restaurant or a store, or apply a location tag to a photo, or their friend might tag them in a check-in post.

Additionally, Facebook stated that knowing the general location of the user helps it and other Internet firms protect accounts by identifying suspicious login behavior. For instance, someone in Asia accesses the account when the user is in the US. Facebook is not alone in this practice, as any team of developers that have the ability to track Internet users can also tell where people are accessing the app or site from.