Zoom kills Facebook integration after data transfer backlash

The Zoom logo on a mobile phone

Zoom has updated the code in its platform to remove the in-app ‘Login with Facebook’ feature on iOS platforms after it emerged the Facebook SDK was unnecessarily collecting user device information.

The Facebook integration collected a swathe of information about a user, including their mobile network operator, the version of iOS in use, as well as detailed information about the device itself.

The details included device disk space available and remaining, as well as display dimensions and device model, among other notes.

The video conferencing app has exploded in popularity in recent days and weeks due to increased demand following the spread of COVID-19, and the greater need for people to work remotely.

Zoom has come into hot water, however, after reports emerged last week that the iOS app was needlessly beaming data to the social media giant so this could be used for targeted advertising.

“Our customers’ privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our iOS client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser,” Zoom said in a statement.

“We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ privacy. We are reviewing our process and protocols for implementing these features in the future to ensure this does not happen again.”

The conferencing app would connect to Facebook’s Graph application programming interface (API) after a user downloaded and opened the app. This API served as the main route through which developers can send and receive data to and from the social network.

Users will now need to update to the latest version of the Zoom iOS app to ensure the changes take hold on their device.

Although Zoom collected and transmitted user device data, this did not include information and activities related to meetings, including the attendees, names, notes, and content.

A Facebook spokesperson told IT Pro after the initial reports last week that it was common for developers to share data with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics.

“We use the data businesses share with us as outlined in our data policy (which you can read here) and to provide industry standard services to businesses,” the spokesperson said.

“We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they're sharing with us. You can read more about our transparency requirements in our business tools terms, specifically section 3(b).”

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.