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Security & privacy

2 new ways your iPhone can be tracked without your consent

Social media is a place where you can say (mostly) what you want, share feelings or post a couple of holiday pics. Often, people like to tag the location of where the photo was taken. Tap or click here for 10 Facebook privacy and security settings you need to change right now.

But there might be occasions where you don’t want to add a specific location to your social media post. You can forgo the option, and nobody will know, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out that the biggest social media platform all but ignores your choice of location privacy.

Taking photos with a digital camera or your mobile phone, several data points are embedded into the image’s technical details. This is known as EXIF data, and contains where the photo was captured, the time, what device was used and the camera’s settings.

Here’s the backstory

The data can be removed through software, and for the most part, is automatically removed when uploading photos to Twitter. On Facebook, however, that is not the case. Even if you enable “never track my location” in settings, it still does.

This was exposed by cybersecurity experts, who detailed that Facebook disregards your privacy settings and will continue to capture metadata like your location and IP address.

To make matters worse, that data isn’t the only thing that Facebook captures for iPhone users. Other than your location, it collects daily movements through the iPhone’s accelerometer. It knows where you go, which apps you use and can even match your movements to others.

“Facebook reads accelerometer data all the time. If you don’t allow Facebook access to your location, the app can still infer your exact location only by grouping you with users matching the same vibration pattern that your phone accelerometer records,” explained researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk.

Is there anything that you can do about it? The short answer: no. There isn’t a setting in Facebook to disable the secret tracking. The only concrete solution will be to delete the Facebook application.

Is it time to finally say goodbye to Facebook? Tap or click here to delete Facebook the correct way.

Using Bluetooth for tracking

Platforms don’t need to use Wi-Fi connections or location beacons to track your movements. Especially on iPhone. Any Bluetooth device emits a radio signal, and this signal can identify your phone.

Generally, all devices that use Bluetooth randomize the network address to make it harder for criminals to track you. But in a study from the University of California, San Diego, researchers noted that there is enough variation in the signals to create a unique fingerprint for any device.

Criminals use special applications to get around the anonymity factor that Bluetooth creates. “These applications use cryptographic anonymity that limits an adversary’s ability to use these beacons to stalk a user. However, attackers can bypass these defenses by fingerprinting the unique physical-layer imperfections in the transmissions of specific devices,” the study notes.

The biggest concern is for iPhone users, as the study explains that iOS devices appear to be louder than Android phones. Simply turning off Bluetooth won’t solve the problem either.

On Android, that should do the trick. But iOS devices use Bluetooth for Find My applications and AirDrop functions. If you have an iPhone, the only way around it is to switch off your device completely. And to keep Facebook from tracking you, delete the app from your iPhone.

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