KEY POINTS

  • The Zoom iOS app sent user data to Facebook everytime it was opened
  • Zoom didn't know about this until it was informed by a tech site
  • The Zoom iOS app was updated to have the Facebook SDK removed

The developers behind the popular video conferencing app Zoom have updated the platform so that Facebook won't be able to get certain private user details the moment they launch the app.

Vice's Motherboard reported that Zoom has updated its video conferencing app in response to an earlier report revealing that it sends user data to Facebook everytime it is launched.

Last week , Motherboard reported that Zoom's iOS app sends data to Facebook whenever the app is launched by users. Although the data being sent does not include the user's name, it does include when the app is launched, details about the user's device (including the model, operating system, screen size, processor cores and storage space), and more.

The tech site informed Zoom, which had no idea that the transfer of data was happening until it was told. “Zoom takes its users’ privacy extremely seriously,” the company said. “However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data.”

As it turns out, a Facebook SDK (software development kit) that was embedded in the Zoom iOS app was the one doing the sending. These SDKs allow developers to make certain features work in apps. Zoom used the SDK to let users log in via the “Login with Facebook” feature. What it didn't know what that the SDK also informed the social media giant about users' movements.

Interestingly, the Zoom iOS app sends user data to Facebook even when the user does not have a Facebook account. It appears that the data transfer was used for advertising purposes – the data that the app sent includes a device-generated advertiser identifier that companies can use to target a user with ads.

Not anymore

Thankfully, Zoom has updated its iOS app so that it won't be capable of sending the aforementioned data to Facebook any longer. The company told Motherboard it “will be removing the Facebook SDK” but will find a way for users to login with Facebook “via their browser.” The tech site downloaded the said update and confirmed that the app doesn't send data off to Facebook anymore.

“We sincerely apologize for this oversight, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ data,” Zoom said.

Videoconferencing apps like Zoom are making it easier for employees to work remotely to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus Videoconferencing apps like Zoom are making it easier for employees to work remotely to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus Photo: GETTY IMAGES / KENA BETANCUR