Facebook Denies Shadow Profile Practices After CEO's EU Visit

Facebook denied the existence of the so-called "shadow profiles" created using data collected from non-users who visit its website or other pages with Facebook elements such as Like buttons. While the company collects data on individuals who aren't its registered users like the vast majority of other websites on the Internet, it doesn't use that information to create any kind of profiles or serve advertisements, according to the tech giant. As part of a written follow-up to some of the questions Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to answer during his Tuesday QA session with members of the European Parliament, the social media giant said all non-users can request any information Facebook has stored on them as part of the company's Help Center.

During an April congressional hearing in the United States, Mr. Zuckerberg said he's not familiar with the term "shadow profiles" and the firm doesn't allow non-users to opt out of all of its data collection mechanisms. Non-users aren't served personalized advertising from the company and are most likely to just see an ad encouraging them to sign up for a Facebook profile, a company representative said in a written statement provided to the European Parliament. As part of the same communication, the Menlo Park, California-based company refused to promise it will never share user data between Facebook and WhatsApp but said it currently doesn't practice such behavior in the European Union. If it chooses to do so in the future, it will announce the change in a transparent manner, the official promised.

Facebook also isn't planning on allowing users to opt out of all targeted advertising, though everyone can block ads from individual marketers, according to the same statement. Mr. Zuckerberg's Tuesday meeting with the European Parliament revealed little new information about the company's privacy policies and the CEO was criticized by several lawmakers for being evasive, though the format of the 90-minute session saw him accepting back-to-back questions for over an hour before trying to address them by "broader themes," as he himself put it.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]