The Weather Channel: Local Forecast & Weather Maps

Retest Observations

We retested this app on 19.02.2019. The app doesn’t contact Facebook as soon as the app is opened.

Disclaimer: the tested app may still share data with other third parties. This is outside the scope of this work.

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From the Google Play Store page:

"Live forecast updates are at your fingertips with The Weather Channel. Get the local weather forecast news delivered directly to your phone or tablet."

Observed Behaviour

This documentation demonstrates actions taken by the test user and the apps subsequent responses.

Test user action 1: The user taps on the application icon, which opens the application
Response from app: The application is initialised and the following data is sent and received by the app:

Immediately after the app is opened, the following data is sent to graph.facebook.com (Graph)

Form data:
format:                       json
sdk:                          android
custom_events_file:           [{"_eventName":"fb_sdk_initialize","_eventName_md5":"d470d22f237aee69843355edba5a8178","_logTime":1543761689,"_ui":"unknown","_implicitlyLogged":"1","core_lib_included":"1","login_lib_included":"1","billing_service_lib_included":"1"},{"_eventName":"fb_mobile_activate_app","_eventName_md5":"cb7f3b6cd294afce05ece615d43ea7b9","_logTime":1543761691,"_ui":"SplashScreenActivity","_session_id":"ddad467c-2d14-4dc3-8892-9a2c112a9f4b","fb_mobile_launch_source":"Unclassified()"}]
event:                        CUSTOM_APP_EVENTS
advertiser_id:                474364c6-e9cf-4971-8dd2-b1dc3c605450
advertiser_tracking_enabled:  true
installer_package:            com.android.vending
anon_id:                      XZ13e321b2-df97-47c4-801e-bbd92cad6fb3
application_tracking_enabled: true
extinfo:                      ["a2","com.weather.Weather",814000166,"8.14.0","8.1.0","Nexus 5","en_GB","GMT","",1080,1776,"3.00",4,13,8,"Europe\/London"]
application_package_name:     com.weather.Weather

The app receives the following response from graph.facebook.com:

 {
  "success":true
}

 

Without any further user action, the app sends the following request to graph.facebook.com

format:                       json
sdk:                          android
event:                        MOBILE_APP_INSTALL
advertiser_id:                474364c6-e9cf-4971-8dd2-b1dc3c605450
advertiser_tracking_enabled:  true
installer_package:            com.android.vending
anon_id:                      XZ13e321b2-df97-47c4-801e-bbd92cad6fb3
application_tracking_enabled: true
extinfo:                      ["a2","com.weather.Weather",814000166,"8.14.0","8.1.0","Nexus 5","en_GB","GMT","",1080,1776,"3.00",4,13,8,"Europe\/London"]
application_package_name:     com.weather.Weather

The app receives the following response from graph.facebook.com:

 {
  "success":true
}

Without any further user action, the app sends the following request to graph.facebook.com

Form data:
format:                       json
sdk:                          android
custom_events_file:           [{"_eventName":"fb_sdk_initialize","_eventName_md5":"d470d22f237aee69843355edba5a8178","_logTime":1543761689,"_ui":"unknown","_implicitlyLogged":"1","core_lib_included":"1","login_lib_included":"1","billing_service_lib_included":"1"},{"_eventName":"fb_mobile_activate_app","_eventName_md5":"cb7f3b6cd294afce05ece615d43ea7b9","_logTime":1543761691,"_ui":"SplashScreenActivity","_session_id":"ddad467c-2d14-4dc3-8892-9a2c112a9f4b","fb_mobile_launch_source":"Unclassified()"}]
event:                        CUSTOM_APP_EVENTS
advertiser_id:                474364c6-e9cf-4971-8dd2-b1dc3c605450
advertiser_tracking_enabled:  true
installer_package:            com.android.vending
anon_id:                      XZ13e321b2-df97-47c4-801e-bbd92cad6fb3
application_tracking_enabled: true
extinfo:                      ["a2","com.weather.Weather",814000166,"8.14.0","8.1.0","Nexus 5","en_GB","GMT","",1080,1776,"3.00",4,13,8,"Europe\/London"]
application_package_name:     com.weather.Weather

With the response:

 {
  "success":true
}

 

Test user action 2: The user makes further interaction with app
Response from app: No futher data is sent to graph.facebook.com while the app is running

Test user action 3: The user closes the app gracefully
Response from app: The following data is sent to graph.facebook.com

The app sends the following request to graph.facebook.com

Form data:
format:                       json
sdk:                          android
custom_events_file:           [{"_eventName":"fb_mobile_deactivate_app","_eventName_md5":"92255b491a4e25b5d809edcf3665affe","_logTime":"1543762090","_ui":"WebViewActivity","_session_id":"e907ab4c-8483-457c-a706-4ad324ab467b","_valueToSum":156,"fb_mobile_time_between_sessions":"session_quanta_0","fb_mobile_launch_source":"Unclassified()","fb_mobile_app_interruptions":"1"}]
event:                        CUSTOM_APP_EVENTS
advertiser_id:                474364c6-e9cf-4971-8dd2-b1dc3c605450
advertiser_tracking_enabled:  true
installer_package:            com.android.vending
anon_id:                      XZ13e321b2-df97-47c4-801e-bbd92cad6fb3
application_tracking_enabled: true
extinfo:                      ["a2","com.weather.Weather",814000166,"8.14.0","8.1.0","Nexus 5","en_GB","GMT","",1080,1776,"3.00",4,13,8,"Europe\/London"]
application_package_name:     com.weather.Weather

The app receives the following response from graph.facebook.com:

 {
  "success":true
}

 

Notes and Commentary

Note 1: In the videos below, the clocks between the VirtualBox Virtual Machine and the Phone handset are not synchronised.
Note 2: The phone videos are split into multiple parts due to a 180 second limitation in Android Developer Bridge screenrecord command

Company Response

The Weather Company, 27 December 2018 (via E-Mail to Privacy International) 

“The Weather Channel (TWC) is committed to protecting user privacy, which includes empowering the user to choose whether to receive personalized advertising. The current version of the TWC Android app — released globally on December 10 — does not utilize the Facebook Login SDK referenced in your December 19, 2018, letter. TWC encourages its users to use the most up-to-date version of the app in order to maximize their user experience and privacy protections.”

Date Tested
02/12/2018
App Version
8.14.0
Number of App Installs (according to Google Play Store at time of analysis)
100,000,000+
Facebook SDK Version
4.35.0
Opt out of Ads Personalisation (Google Settings)
Not Enabled (Default Setting)
This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.