Facebook Still Tracking iPhone Users After iOS 14.5 Stopped Third Party Tracking, Here’s How

Apple may have done a lot to stop Facebook from tracking users across the Internet, but it may not have done enough.


If you thought updating to iOS 14.5 will stop Facebook from tracking you, think again. According to a report by Forbes, the company can continue tracking you on iPhones, despite iOS 14.5 allowing users to specifically stop the company from doing so. It does so by looking at the photos you upload to Facebook. According to the report, the company deletes EXIF data, which includes the location tags and IP address, of each photo and stores that in its database(s). It’s not like this data is shared with anyone, but the company keeps it for its own advertising purposes.

“So, is Facebook doing anything valuable with the data? Not for you. Gone are the days when your images could be seen by EXIF location—a huge privacy risk of a different kind. This data is now for Facebook’s own purposes. Remember its business model,” the article states.

For the uninitiated, EXIF data is the metadata that is attached to each photo you click. It holds essential information about a photo, including location history and the IP address of the device it was taken from. This data is usually stored with the photos on your phone, and is one of the many ways companies can gather more data about you. One way to stop this is by making sure your phone doesn’t have this data in the first place, but that won’t always be possible.

The bigger problem here though is the fact that Facebook doesn’t explicitly say that it’s doing this anywhere. Its privacy policy, which just includes a bunch of legal jargon that none of us understands, covers tracking like this. Which means that you agreed to this the moment you signed up for a Facebook account.

“Facebook’s privacy policy says as much. The data “we collect,” it says, “can include information in or about the content that you provide (e.g. metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.” The location data, it says, is used “to provide, personalize and improve our products, including ads,” the article states.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that iOS 14.5’s new features don’t work. It just shows that Facebook has more workarounds for it than we all are aware of.