Facebook May Now Know When Users Last Had Sex, Spawning Fresh Data Privacy Row

CC0 / / Female expression
Female expression - Sputnik International
Highly sensitive information has been found ending up in Facebook’s hands, as at least two smartphone applications have used Facebook analytics and app monetisation software to transmit information even before a data privacy agreement has had time to pop up on user displays.

Although menstrual-tracking apps widely used by women across the world are thought to keep the data entered safe and confidential, this appears to not quite be the case with at least two applications of the kind, Maya and MIA Fem.

According to Britain-based privacy watchdog Privacy International, in a number of cases, personal details self-recorded by users in the app contained information on when they last had sex, the type of contraception used, etc. The watchdog went on to say that the deeply intimate details were then shared with Facebook using the Software Development Kit – a product that allows developers to create apps for certain operating systems, track analytics, as well as monetise apps, while concerns are mounting that advertisers and insurers are targeting certain social categories and potentially using data to discriminate against some of them.

As flagged by Privacy International, both Maya and MIA started sharing data with Facebook the moment the user installed the app on their phone and opened it, before a user even had time to see the privacy policy details.

However, a Facebook spokesman struck back, saying that advertisers didn’t have access to the sensitive health information shared by these apps. The social media giant “does not leverage information gleaned from people's activity across other apps or websites" when advertisers choose target users by interest.

Earlier, several pregnancy-tracking apps found themselves in hot water over reportedly sharing health data with female employees, prompting users to give fake names and often insert inaccurate data.

Facebook has long been in the crosshairs of watchdogs and private users due to numerous data privacy scandals that it has been embroiled in. For instance, the social media platform recently agreed to pay a staggering $5 billion due to violations of user privacy in a settlement reached with the US Federal Trade Commission in July 2019.

The financial settlement is thought to be directly linked to the much-covered Cambridge Analytica scandal, when the latter scraped the records of hordes of Facebook users in a bid to allegedly use them to sway votes in the 2016 US presidential election.





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