Zoom caught in data-sharing snafu, even as user numbers and share price soar

Zoom Eric Yuan Facebook

Zoom founder and chief executive officer Eric Yuan. Source: Glassdoor.

Zoom, the emerging tech darling of social isolation, has suffered something of a blow to its spotless reputation, after it transpired the app was sending users’ data to Facebook, even if those users didn’t have a Facebook account.

While this data exchange isn’t uncommon — many apps apparently use Facebook’s software development kits as an easy way to implement new feature — it was not being made clear to users that their data was being shared.

In fact, Zoom says it didn’t even know it was happening.

The app was reportedly notifying Facebook when users opened the Zoom app, and sharing data including their city and time zone, and which phone carrier they were using, among other details about their device.

It was then creating a unique advertiser identifier, so the user could be targeted with ads.

Zoom said in a statement it was made aware of the data collection on March 25, via Vice journalist Joseph Cox, who broke the news. It has since issued an update, preventing the data from being released.

“We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users’ privacy,” the statement said.

“We are reviewing our process and protocols for implementing these features in the future to ensure this does not happen again.”

Zoom’s video conferencing app has emerged as something of a saviour as COVID-19 has continued to spread on a global scale.

Businesses are using the app to conduct meetings, but people are using it their spare time too, to connect with friends and family while practising social distancing.

The tech company, which is listed on NASDAQ, has reportedly seen its share price more than double since January.

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