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You are still being tracked on your mobile devices, but not with cookies


There has been a gradual shift in the pattern of the way we access information. We are slowly moving from web on to mobile devices, and so are companies like Facebook, Google and Apple.  While cookie tracking seems to be slowly dying, does it mean companies cannot track your mobile devices? Obviously, not! Tech giants have now begun working on other methods in their bid to help advertisers track users across multiple devices.

Citing Medialets‘ chief executive Eric Litman, VentureBeat points out, “The impending death of the cookie can be traced to the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Apple decided to disable cookie functionality in iPhones because it believed advertisers would be able to garner too much personal information as they tracked you across websites.”

However, third-party cookies still work on Google’s Chrome browser as well as Android OS. However, they don’t function on a large number of smartphones and tablets built by other companies. Moreover, cookies do not track apps and work only when you are using a browser.

The report further elaborates on the the methods used by these companies to track you across multiple devices. It states that Facebook uses SSO (Single Sign-On) to track users. SSO lets you use your Facebook credentials on third-party websites and apps, which in turn lets the social site keep an eye on you, follow you and also mark your destination. “But this method only works within Facebook’s ecosystem. The company is looking to expand and recently unveiled a new version of the Atlas ad platform (which Facebook acquired from Microsoft last year) at Advertising Week in New York. The new platform is Facebook’s attempt to serve ads outside its existing ecosystem, on both desktop and mobile,” adds the report. It also suggests users who don’t want to be tracked by Atlas to opt for updated version AdBlock browser plug-in – AdBlock Plus.

Just like Facebook, Google has employed the SSO method too. Basically, Google ties you to their gigantic network as soon as you log into any Google account. Moreover, Google’s Android OS also provides an Ad ID to each of its users. Its ad products like AdSense, AdMob, and DoubleClick work at pulling your device’s ad identifier as well as details from your other accounts, and voila, there is has your complete digital history.

On the other hand, Apple focuses on your email address. Now, your email id is tied to all Apple services on yout iOS or OS X device as well as iTunes. The report further elaborates, “Our login identity is tied to your Apple “identifier for advertisers,” or IDFA. It’s a unique string of characters assigned to every user buying and using an iOS device. So when ads run on Apple’s advertising network iAd for example, Apple is able to determine who’s receiving the ad, and potentially to connect that back to everything that person did elsewhere in Apple’s system.”

To avoid being tracked, users can always turn off tracking functions from settings, irrespective of  device running on iOS or Android.

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