The Real Deal Miami

Mobile apps for home buyers raise privacy issues by sharing data with Facebook

The mobile app for Realtor.com, for example, shares with Facebook the locations and prices of homes that consumers view
March 03, 2019 12:15PM

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Mobile software applications that consumers use to shop for homes are sharing data with Facebook, raising doubt about control over personal privacy.

For example, an app for Realtor.com delivers information to Facebook about the prices and locations of homes that consumers have viewed.

Facebook receives such information even if users of the Realtor.com app are not logged into their Facebook account or lack such an account.

In an email, a spokesperson for Zillow said the company shares “a very limited amount of information about our users’ home shopping activity with platforms such as Facebook to provide consumers with personalized and relevant advertising of homes that may interest them.”

The spokesman also said Zillow’s privacy policy – which mentions Facebook by name – allows users to opt out of data collection by a third party.

“We only share with Facebook the information that’s necessary to provide tailored home shopping ads,” the Zillow spokesperson told Inman. “We don’t share sensitive personal information with Facebook.”

The practice of sharing information from mobile real estate apps with third parties appears common.

Redfin, for example, discloses in its privacy policy that the company shares app-based data with third parties.

Opendoor states in its privacy policy that it uses “de-identified, anonymized, aggregated or similar non-personally identifiable data” for “any lawful business purpose.”

Bill Wendel, an advocate for consumers who use real estate services, told Inman that “these practices underline the urgent need to address real estate  … in the scope of national privacy legislation being considered by the U.S. Congress.” [Inman]Mike Seemuth