Facebook Will Start Tracking People Offline

Facebook Smartphone LocationIt is already common knowledge that marketers and tech companies track people online, but now Facebook wants to track people offline too.

It seems that Facebook is always coming up with new ways to track people online and collect their personal information. The popular social network even goes so far as to track people’s behaviors online. Facebook also collects personal information on people who are not registered users on any of their social media sites. Now, Facebook wants to track people offline and record their activities and purchases when they visit stores and businesses.

Facebook is planning to use GPS technology with point-of-sale technology in stores to find out which people bought products or services that they saw on Facebook ads. Facebook will even track people who don’t actually purchase anything, by using smartphone location data, GPS, WiFi signals, radio signals and cell phone triangulation to locate people inside stores and businesses.

Facebook is calling their new people tracking and ad system the “Offline Conversations API.” The new system is designed to help Facebook compete with Google for online advertising, but it will no doubt raise protests from privacy advocates. Facebook will use their large amounts of personal information on people to determine who people are, where they are located, which ads they saw and what they are buying.

The Offline Conversions API allows Facebook to collect location and personal information on people from both online and in-store purchases. Unfortunately, it is easy to see who else might want access to this personal and location data on people, such as governments and law enforcement agencies.

Facebook claims that they protect people’s privacy by aggregating and anonymizing all of this personal information. However, there is no opt-out option for the “Offline Conversations” system. The only real way that you can avoid Facebook’s new people tracking system is by turning off Facebook’s location option altogether or turning off the location option on your smartphone.

Facebook plans to fully implement this new people tracking API within the next few months.