Facebook has come under fire for indiscriminate tracking of users visiting the website in a new report investigating the social network.
The report, which comes from researchers at the University of Lueven and was commissioned by the Belgian data protection agency, suggests the user-tracking breaches European law.
According to the report, Facebook tracks the web browsing of anyone that visits a Facebook page, even if the user doesn’t actually have an account with the social network.
The company also tracks users who have ‘explicitly opted out of tracking in the EU’, as reported by The Guardian.
Facebook admits it tracks users to better target its advertising, by drawing in metadata on user browsing habits.
“We collect information when you visit or use third-party websites and apps that use our services,” reads Facebook’s data usage policy.
It continues: “This includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.”
The researchers, however, claim Facebook is doing this without explicit consent of the users.
The report details how Facebook’s social plug-ins, for instance the ‘Like’ button, can lead to tracking. That particular button currently exists on upwards of 13 million websites.
Current EU privacy law mandates that companies need to receive consent from users before they issue tracking cookies.
It’s worth noting that Facebook claims the new report contains ‘factual inaccuracies’, and remains ‘willing to engage’ with the authors.