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The Truth about the COVID-19 “Google Tracker”

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It seems social media messages on COVID-19 Google Tracker have been misleading innocent content consumers.

The message doing rounds on various social media platforms alleged that Google secretly inserted a COVID-19 sensor into all android run mobile devices.

“Doubt if you know that a COVID-19 sensor has been “inserted” secretly into every phone. Apparently when everyone was having ‘phone disruption’ earlier this week, they were adding COVID-19 Tracker to our phones! If you have an android phone, go under settings then look for google settings and it’s there. If you’re using an iPhone, go under settings, privacy, then health, it’s there but not yet functional. The app can notify you if you’ve been near someone who have reported having covid-19 Check and confirm.”

Apparently, the message has turned to be misleading as the functionality was never “inserted secretly”.

In reality, the message is referencing to the COVID-19 tracing built jointly by Apple and Google.

In May this year biggest tech companies Apple and Google jointly launched their exposure notification technology, and made them available to developers as an Application Programming interface (API).

The new system allows iPhones and Android devices to enable COVID-19 exposure notifications but, does not translate that a tracker has been installed in every device in order to track a user’s location or any other details.

The notification was launched to facilitate digital contact tracing during the 2019/2020 COVID19 pandemic.

In a joint statement, during the launch, the companies announced that the API, which health agencies can use to incorporate the technology into their apps, is now available to developers on both iOS and Android.

“Apple and Google stress that users have the option to opt-in to Exposure Notifications, the technology does not track their location, and that it is up to the individual to report potential exposure to the public health app they may be using. For iPhone owners, users must update to iOS 13.5 in order to have access to Exposure Notifications. Android users will receive the update automatically through Google Play Services.”

However, misinformation circulated on social media indeed, a new service has been introduced on both iOS and Android device but they require a participating application to turn on the COVID-19 exposure setting.

Similarly, on iOS devices, the COVID-19 exposure logging is turned off by default, this means that no application has been silently ‘inserted’ any devices. In basic terms, Apple and Android have given their devices a basic framework that is required to track COVID-19 exposure for its users. As per reports, Apple and Google wish to provide COVID-19 related contact tracing without requiring a dedicated application.

Basically, the message has half-baked truth to it and that regards according to the Boom publication Google recorded a surge on COVID19 sensor on Google, COVID19 sensor on phones as they became a trending search.

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