FACEBOOK may know the last time you had sex if you happen to be a user of certain period tracking apps.
This is according to a study by Privacy International which claims that intimate data is being shared with the social media giant without users realising.
According to the report, information like what contraception people use, when their periods are and the type of symptoms they experience are also shared.
Privacy International said: “The wide reach of the apps that our research has looked at might mean that intimate details of the private lives of millions of users across the world are shared with Facebook and other third parties without those users’ free, unambiguous and informed or explicit consent, in the case of special-category (sensitive) personal data, such as data relating to a user’s health or sex life.
“Our research highlights that the apps we have exposed raise serious concerns when it comes to their compliance with their GDPR obligations, especially around consent and transparency.”
Apps like period trackers offer users the dates of the month they are most fertile or can expect their next period and in return for data, which they can then sell.
Sharing the private data with Facebook occurs via the tech giant’s software development kit (SDK), which helps apps sell information to advertisers who then target personalised ads at the users.
The apps can collect lots of intimate data including stuff about health, sex, moods, food and the types of sanitary products someone uses.
The recent investigation found that the most popular menstruation apps like Period Tracker, Period Track Flo and Clue Period Tracker did not share data with Facebook.
However, others such as Maya by Plackal Tech, MIA by Mobapp Development Limited and My Period Tracker by Linchpin Health did.
The Maya app has five million downloads on the Google Play Store alone, MIA has one million and My Period Tracker by Linchpin Health has over one million.
After being shown the study, Maya told Privacy International that it had “removed both the Facebook core SDK and Analytics SDK from Maya”.
Maya claims that it doesn’t share “personally identifiable data or medical data.”
Linchpin Health did not respond to Privacy International when asked for comment and MIA did not want its response to be published.
Facebook recently announced that it will be launching a tool for users to stop businesses and apps sharing their personal information with the social network.
The collecting and sharing of sensitive information would be especially concerning if there was ever a data breach and people’s sex lives were made public.
The tech giant told us: “Our terms of service prohibit developers from sending us sensitive health information and we enforce against them when we learn they are.
“In addition, ad targeting based on people’s interests does not leverage information gleaned from people’s activity across other apps or websites.”
We have contacted all of the accused apps for comment.
The popular period apps accused of sharing private data
Here’s the apps which the report accused of sharing intimate details…
- Maya by Plackal Tech (it claims to have since removed both the Facebook core SDK and Analytics SDK from Maya)
- MIA by Mobapp Development Limited
- My Period Tracker by Linchpin Health
- Ovulation Calculator by Pinkbird
- Period Tracker by GP International LLC
- Mi Calendario by Grupo Familia
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The tech giant could also be getting rid of ‘likes’ after Instagram ditched the feature to ‘remove pressure’.
And, the new Apple Watch features a tool that helps you track your periods.
Do you worry about your privacy online? Let us know in the comments…
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