If you have caught my last few videos and streams on YouTube lately (and were able to tolerate the technical issues I had), then you would know that I've made my disdain for Facebook and my aggressive dislike of Mark Zuckerberg no secret. It's also been no secret that those who have downloaded an early version of iOS 13 have started seeing a peculiar notification on their device: "Facebook would like to use Bluetooth."
iOS 13, which is scheduled to launch on Thursday of this week, is packed with new privacy features, the goal of which is to give users far more control over what data they share with apps. Both Facebook and Google are notorious for harvesting data to better target advertisements, a business model that Tim Cook has described as the "data industrial complex."
For those who have downloaded the beta version of iOS 13, the update has already caught apps like Facebook and YouTube employing data-gathering methods that have been in place for a while.
One particular method is to clandestinely tap into a phone's Bluetooth technology to track a person's physical location and their proximity to others' smartphones.
Facebook tracks, and gathers enmasse, personal data on users' connections with one another and can combine proximity information gathered from Bluetooth with GPS data to make inferences about their relationships. For instance, Facebook could log that you spent a few hours near someone else at a private residence and differentiate that relationship from other Facebook users you come into contact with only at an office building.
In addition to hoarding as much personal data that they can to use for targeting ads, Facebook could, in theory, use the relationship-mapping data in its newly launched dating service, designed to compete with apps like Tinder and Bumble.
Much to the chagrin of Facebook and Google, iPhone users have the option to turn off location services — including through GPS, Bluetooth, and cell towers — for specific apps, and iOS 13 should provide a more detailed breakdown of which apps access which location services. To use Facebook Dating, however, users must agree to turn on location services. So my personal suggestion to anyone would be to not use these "services" in any way shape or form, whatsoever.
Last week, ahead of the iOS update, Facebook published a blog post explaining its location-gathering practices and noting that users can turn off location services to prevent the app from using Bluetooth and GPS to track them.
However, even with location services switched off, Facebook could still track a user's location "using things like check-ins, events and information about your internet connection."
So in my ever so humble opinion, which I've more or less stated several times over the last few weeks, the likes of Facebook should be stayed away from. Their nefarious practices of garnering our personal information for their own benefit needs to come to a stop. But I do understand that many people still "need" Facebook for one thing or another. My advice to that sort of person would be to at least stop using the Facebook app. If you absolutely need Facebook, contain it to a desktop browser.
I could say the same thing about Google, as their practices are not at all dissimilar. It's simply the fact that Google provides a far wider, and much more productive, range of services that would otherwise cost the end user a significant amount out of their bank account.