Apps that allow women to follow their menstrual period, send deeply personal data about sexual practices and health to Facebook, a new report has warned.
Privacy International, a British watchdog, discovered that at least two time tracking apps sent information directly to Facebook, including when the user had last had sex.
Other details sent to the social media giant include the use of birth control by women, the timing of their monthly menstrual periods, and their state of mind.
The apps mentioned in the Privacy International report are Maya, which has been downloaded more than five million times on Google Play, and Mia Fem, which has more than two million users around the world.
The data is sent to Facebook via the Software Development Kit, which allows developers to earn money from their apps by collecting data for targeted ads.
Maya asks his users whether they have recently had sex and whether they have used protection or not (left). It also asks them to describe their mucus (right)
The apps mentioned in the Privacy International report are Maya, which has been downloaded more than five million times on Google Play, and MIA Fem (photo), which has more than two million users worldwide. Both follow periods for women
Much of the data is recorded by people who use the apps for various reasons, including keeping track of their periods and improving their chances of conception.
Maya is owned by the Indian company Plackal Tech, while Mia Fem is owned by Mobapp Development Limited, based in Cyprus.
Privacy International discovered that both apps, Maya and MIA, started sharing data with Facebook as soon as the user installed and opened it on their phone.
According to Buzz Feed, the report said: & # 39; If Maya asks you to enter how you feel and gives suggestions for symptoms you may have – suggestions such as blood pressure, swelling or acne – you would hope that this data extra care.
& # 39; But no, that information is shared with Facebook. & # 39;
Maya asks his users about their use of birth control, their mood and when they last had sex.
There is even a diary section that encourages users to take notes about their health.
All this information is shared with Facebook.
Both apps (in the picture is Maya) send personal data about sexual health to Facebook via the Software Development Kit, which allows developers to earn money with their apps by collecting data for targeted advertisements
Maya asks his users about their use of birth control, their mood and when they last had sex
MIA Fem sees users answering questions about smoking, the amount of coffee they drink and even the use of tampons.
This information is not immediately shared with Facebook, but it allows the app to recommend specific articles to the user, after which those articles are shared with the social network.
By knowing a person's mood or being pregnant or not, advertisers can personalize ads based on shopping habits.
This generates income for the app and developers, but raises questions about privacy and security.
Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of non-profit patient rights, warned that people just expect their health data to be protected by the same laws that protect their health information in a doctors office.
However, many apps do not fall under the same data laws.
She added: & # 39; Most people would like to make their own decisions about what is known about their sex life, whether it is shared or not.
& # 39; We cannot do that at the moment. & # 39;
A Facebook spokesperson told Mail Online: & # 39; Unlike BuzzFeed reporting, our Terms of Service prohibit developers from sending us sensitive health information and we force them to find out when they find out they are.
& # 39; In addition, ad targeting based on people's interests does not use information obtained from people's activity in other apps or websites. & # 39;
The company added that its terms of service prevent app developers from sharing health or sensitive information.
Facebook says it has been in contact with both Maya and MIA to notify them of a possible violation of those terms, in statements from the companies included in the Privacy International report.
Mail Online has contacted the developers of both apps for comments.
HOW CAN FACEBOOK PLAN IMPROVE PRIVACY?
In a blog post on March 6, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to rebuild based on six & # 39; privacy-focused & # 39; principles:
- Private interactions
- Reduce sustainability
- Secure data storage
Zuckerberg promised end-to-end coding for all its messaging services, which are combined in such a way that users can communicate via WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger.
He calls this & # 39; interoperability & # 39 ;.
He also said that advancing, the company will not post messages or stories & # 39; longer than necessary & # 39; or & # 39; longer than people want & # 39; to hold.
This may mean, for example, that users have messages deleted automatically after a month or even a few minutes.
& # 39; Interoperability & # 39; ensures that messages remain encrypted, even when jumping from one messaging service, such as WhatsApp, to another, such as Instagram, Zuckerberg says.
Facebook also hopes to increase user confidence in how it stores their data.
Zuckerberg promised the site & # 39; will not store sensitive data in countries with weak human rights data such as privacy and freedom of expression to protect data from incorrect access & # 39 ;.
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