Zoom Silently Sends Data to Facebook

Posted on March 26, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Mobile with 18 Comments

Zoom has been all over the internet in the last few weeks with more people working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak. And as more people are starting to use the service, it’s getting a lot more attention than before, with people discovering interesting new things about how the service works.

As it turns out, Zoom is actually a privacy nightmare. Motherboard is reporting today that the Zoom iOS app silently sends user data to Facebook even if the user does not have a Facebook account.

You see, Zoom’s iOS app uses a Facebook SDK that connects to Facebook’s Graph API and sends data to Facebook automatically. According to the report, the Zoom app shares data about a user’s device model, their time zone, the city they are connecting from, their phone carrier, when the user opens the app, and a unique advertiser ID used for targeting ads, etc. to Facebook.

The problem here is that Zoom apparently does all of this without making it clear to the user on their privacy policy. “That’s shocking. There is nothing in the privacy policy that addresses that,” Pat Walshe, an activist from Privacy Matters.

Zoom’s privacy policy does note that the company may collect details on your Facebook account when you log in to Zoom products using Facebook, but it mentions nothing about sharing data with Facebook when users don’t even have a Facebook account.

The latest find joins a growing list of privacy problems in Zoom. The company’s app was recently found to let hosts of calls track if participants have the Zoom app open or not to be able to track their attention during a call.

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (18)

18 responses to “Zoom Silently Sends Data to Facebook”

  1. wright_is

    It wouldn't work here, at home (my firewall blocks all external DNS and DoH, except for my internal DNS server and that has over 1,500 blacklisted Facebook domains).

    But at the office the tracking would be a breach of GDPR - we definitely couldn't use it as a business video conferencing system, our works council and the Data Protection Office would string us up, if we tried to use it. The host tracking the attendees without a warning would be illegal, let alone it sending data to Facebook without the user's permission, let alone knowledge.

  2. richfrantz

    I just started using Zoom on my PC. Anyone know if that is the same issue on that platform?

  3. nstjlee

    Considering that lots of schools are now using Zoom to continue providing education to students during current school closures due to COVID-19, I would say this is important information and may be concerning to parents and schools.

    • Sprtfan

      In reply to nstjlee:

      I think Zoom is giving away what is typically a paid level to k-12 schools for free. I believe that has different safeguards and security in place. I don't know for sure about that though but was the impression I had. It could be that version has security flaws as well. If you are a teacher, don't use the free version. Use the version that was made free to schools.

      Zoom partners with schools to provide video communications to support traditional, virtual, and hybrid classrooms, distance learning, educational office hours, guest lectures, and more. As part of the services we provide to K-12 schools, Zoom may be used by students, including students under the age of 16. We are particularly committed to protecting the privacy of K-12 users, and Zoom’s K-12 Schools & Districts Privacy Policy is designed to reflect our compliance with the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)

  4. codymesh

    why are people using this app instead of the usual tools like Slack, Skype, etc? I don't get it.

    • ozaz

      In reply to codymesh:

      Speaking for myself:

      I don’t actually know anyone I work with who uses slack. Perhaps it’s popular in some industries but not others. Also, does Slack even do video conferencing?

      I find Skype fairly unreliable and find the regular Skype vs Skype for Business distinction confusing.

      I’ve found zoom very easy to use and reliable, and crucially every one else I interact with does too.

  5. PStansberry78

    That last one is a feature of Zoom. It's important for some presenters who may be presenting Continuing Education or other accredited courses to be able to track and know if their attendees are actually paying attention (Zoom in the foreground, that is) or not so that can grant the appropriate credit. It's no different than requiring those same attendees to be in the room during an in-person CE or accredited course.

    Not sure how that's a privacy concern.

  6. rheuser

    Is the Facebook data issue only for their iOS app?

  7. rm

    Put a fork in Zoom, that is intentional in my opinion. Even if it wasn't, can't prove it to me.

  8. lefrenchfab

    Oh... f... me. Jeez, why can we never have nice things.

  9. Thretosix

    I can't figure out how Facebook is still in business. They steal your information and sell it. It's a known thing. They allow political espionage allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica to use your information to curb elections. Community standards are setup like a petri dish for trolls.

  10. solomonrex

    These sorts of things wouldn't have happened if Microsoft had minded their knitting and kept Skype functional. The last interview I tried to set up the choices were ... Facetime (!) and Whatsapp (!!!!?). So, the assumption is either that you own an iphone or you're ok with facebook spying! MS has thoroughly bungled this in every way possible. This is from a company that uses Office 365, too.

    And, to be fair, where is the open source alternatives? What happened to p2p? This is getting out of control for really stupid reasons. There is nothing hard about video chat. It's enough to make you miss Yahoo! There's a company that was too disorganized to rig elections even if they were the last internet company in the world.

  11. mixedfarmer75

    Such a good product; but Facebook. Really. Just another WhatsApp data suck.