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Senators call out Facebook over location tracking policies

They say the social media platform should respect the privacy choices of its users.

Facebook is the target of US legislators once again. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Two US senators aren't satisfied with Facebook's explanations so far on how it uses location data in its app. The legislators say the company is undermining users' privacy choices. 

Sen. Christopher Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday saying that if users want to restrict their location information to Facebook, then the company should respect their decision. 

"Location data is among the most sensitive personal information that a user can share with a company," the two senators wrote in the letter. "We appreciate Facebook's attempt to proactively inform users about their privacy options.  However, we are concerned that Facebook may not in fact be offering users the level of control that the company suggests these settings provide."

In their letter, the senators ask, among other things, whether Facebook collects any information about a user's location if the user has turned off or limited location services, whether it shares information with third parties and whether that location information is monetized or used for advertising. They requested a response from the social media company by Dec. 12. 

Paul McDonald, a Facebook engineering director, wrote a blog post on Sept. 9 that outlined how the social media platform uses location information and how users can control the location settings in iOS 13 and Android 10.  

A spokesperson for Facebook reiterated that users control whether they share precise location information with Facebook Products via location services through the setting on their mobile device. 

Originally published Nov. 19, 9:05 a.m. PT. 
Update, 1:56 p.m. PT: Adds Facebook comment. 

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