Are you using Instagram and/or Facebook (Meta) on your iOS phone? If so, you might want to stop doing that. Felix Krause provided detailed information that, to me, sounds like those apps can track you on your phone even if you’ve told them not to. It is done in a sketchy way that most people won’t immediately recognize.
I recommend you read Felix Krause’s entire blog post. It made me reconsider using the Instagram app on my phone. (I stopped using Facebook ages ago).
What Instagram (and Facebook and Meta) do:
- Links to external websites are rendered inside the Instagram app, instead of using the built-in Safari
- This allows Instagram to monitor everything happening on external websites, without the consent from the user, nor the website provider
According to Felix Krause, Meta (Facebook, Instagram) is losing money due to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. You may recall that 96% of iOS users in the U.S. opted out of App Tracking almost immediately after it became available. The vast majority of Apple users don’t want to be tracked.
It is my understanding that Meta (etc.) heavily relies on making money from advertisements that users click on or visit the website of. It can’t do that anymore, thanks to the efforts by Apple, including Safari’s ability to block third party cookies by default. Firefox announced Total Cookie Protection by default to prevent any cross-page tracking. Google Chrome will soon phase out third party cookies.
In my opinion, Meta is desperately clinging to what worked for them in the past, as their ad revenue dries up. Those who click on a link in Instagram on an ad that caught their attention likely had no idea that the browser it opened was altered by Meta. It’s a sketchy move, and no company should be doing that, and especially not to iOS users who opted to prevent Meta from tracking them.
The Guardian reported that Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has been rewriting websites it lets users visit, letting the company follow them across the web after they click links in its apps. According to The Guardian, the two apps have been taking advantage of the fact that users who click on links are taken to webpages in an “in-app-browser,” controlled by Facebook or Instagram.
As for me, I’m going to avoid using the Instagram app in favor of scrolling through it on my desktop computer. It seems much safer than allowing Meta to substitute the browser of its choice instead of mine – and for Meta’s own benefit.