To help you differentiate between the two, let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook is a social networking platform that users interact with through services such as the Facebook browser and mobile app, Messenger and Facebook Ads. These are first-party services, or services that a business provides directly to customers or users.
On the other hand, third-party services are owned by a vendor that is independent from the first party. Websites and apps like Facebook often integrate with third-party apps like online games, marketing tools and eCommerce platforms to provide a unified experience for users.
From an online privacy perspective, the use of third-party services has been highlighted as a potential risk by industry regulators. Remember Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018? That was a clear example of third-party data sharing gone wrong.
Laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have introduced new sets of rules and disclosure requirements for businesses that use third-party services.
As you are responsible for the vendors you choose to engage with and entrust your customers’ data to, you could be liable for any potential data breaches or privacy violations that could arise as a result.
Additionally, you will need to get informed consent from users before you use any third-party cookies – if you haven’t already, you may need to add a cookie consent banner to your website.
Your responsibility to protect your users’ privacy doesn’t end where third parties come into the picture, which is why you must always do your due diligence when working with or integrating third-party services with your app or website.