SIGH... JUST SIGH. Yet more sensitive data has been shared with Facebook, this time rather intrusive information collected by period-tracking apps.
Working with BuzzFeed News, Privacy International conducted research into apps used to track the menstrual cycle of women and discovered that the sensitive data being recorded was being passed onto the privacy-unaware social network.
Obviously, periods can be particularly sensitive things for some women who would rather keep the in and outs of their menstrual cycles to themselves, but the research shows the apps also revealed when users' last had sex and when a user was at her most fertile.
The research found that while the most popular period-tracking app didn't send data to Facebook, others did.
Privacy International noted that Maya by Plackal Tech and MIA by Mobapp Development Limited, at the time the research was done, were carrying out "what we believe to be extensive sharing of sensitive personal data with third parties, including Facebook".
"When Maya asks you to enter how you feel and offers suggestions of symptoms you might have — suggestions like blood pressure, swelling or acne — one would hope this data would be treated with extra care," the report explains. "But no, that information is shared with Facebook."
Not only is the passing on of such sensitive data a no-no given period-tracker apps can also determine a user's mood, but that data could also then be used by advertisers on Facebook to target specific product and service at users, which is another slap in the face of online privacy.
The crux of this data sharing seems to stem from the use of the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK), which provides developers with analytics and a means to monetise their apps through the Facebook Audience Network, though permission to use any harvested user data for targeted advertising needs to be granted.
Facebook maintains that developers are required to make sure they have the right persimmons to use their users' data, but it seems there are some flaws in that system.
Privacy International recommends Facebook sorts this out and better explains how its SDK deals with data, as well as offer more services that make it as easy as possible for developers to protect their users' privacy.
It also suggested period-tracking apps should conduct in-depth privacy reviews and limit the data collected and shared. And it also levied recommendations at EU and non-EU governments, basically suggesting better data protection legalisation is needed.
For users, Privacy International recommended the following: "Resetting your advertising ID regularly. This can be found on most Android devices under, Settings > Google > Ads > Reset Advertising ID."
"Limiting ad personalisation by opting out of ad personalization in the Android settings. This can be found on most Android devices under, Settings > Google > Ads > Opt-out of personalised Advertising."
We recommend you ditch all digital services and go live in the woods, with but the most basic smartphone in order to read our articles and nothing else.
That way we can avoid hearing more depressing stories of dodgy data sharing with Facebook seemingly always involved unknowingly or otherwise. µ
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