Friday February 22, 2019

How Facebook Tracks Your Ovulation and Heart Rate Through Apps

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that apps are sending sensitive information to Facebook through the Facebook SDK. The Facebook SDK makes it easy for app writers to share information with Facebook through a built-in analytics service called "App Events." 17.6% of the apps on Apple's App Store and 25.4% of the apps on the Google Play Store use the Facebook SDK. These apps are collecting your data to "allow apps to better understand their users' behavior or to collect data to sell targeted advertising." Facebook says it didn't know that health information was being collected and shared as this is violates their policies. Facebook collects the information for market research and advertising campaigns. Users do not even need a Facebook account for their information to be shared with the social media giant.

Some of the apps analyzed by The Wall Street Journal shared information such as weight, height, women's period, length of cycle, ovulation, heart rate, when women desire to get pregnant, location and prices of home listings; including which were marked as favorites. Other information shared include; unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile, email address, which part of the body a person has issues with in regards to weight loss and many other interactions. Within seconds of entering information into an app, Facebook is sent a copy of the information. "Facebook can often match that data with actual Facebook users."

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Facebook said some of the data sharing uncovered by the Journal's testing appeared to violate its business terms, which instruct app developers not to send it "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." Facebook said it is telling apps flagged by the Journal to stop sending information its users might regard as sensitive. The company said it may take additional action if the apps don't comply. "We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us," a Facebook spokeswoman said. She said Facebook automatically deletes some sensitive data it might receive, such as Social Security numbers.

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