How Highly Personal Data Is Going Right to Facebook

The 'Wall Street Journal' uncovers the activity of 11 popular apps
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2019 11:30 AM CST
A woman looks at an iPhone 8 Plus at an Apple Store in San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Many of Apple's newest products came out Friday.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – Turns out Facebook is hoovering more data from your smartphone that you may have realized. The Wall Street Journal says 11 popular apps—mostly related to health and fitness—are sending people's highly personal information to Facebook even if the user isn't on Facebook and the app doesn't require a Facebook-account login. That means users' menstrual cycles, body weight, blood pressure, and pregnancy status are ending up in Facebook's servers, likely in order to target people with ads and show them select content. What's more, there's no apparent way for users to opt out of the data sharing, and apps aren't required by Apple or Google to reveal who's getting the data.

Facebook says this may go against the company's business terms, which forbid app developers from sending "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." But Facebook does offer developers an analytics tool that lets them view user-activity statistics in order to show users targeted advertising. And that advertising is valuable; Facebook owns 20% of the world's $333 billion market in digital ads. Among the apps sharing personalized data are Flo health Inc's Flo period & Ovulation Tracker, BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts, and the Breethe meditation app. The Journal's article comes on the heels of a TechCrunch report that Facebook paid users, including teenagers, to install an app that lets the company gather data on all activity from their phones. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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