Facebook leaked protected health data, FTC complaint alleges

Facebook allegedly released protected and sensitive health information of members in different private and public groups, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint.

The complaint, which was filed in January and released Feb. 19, claims Facebook disclosed information of members in closed groups. One of the cases brought to life in the complaint occurred in July 2018 when a group for BRCA-positive women discovered private information, such as names and emails, could be downloaded manually or with a Chrome extension, according to The Verge.

At the time of the incident, Facebook made changes to groups, ending the ability to download users' information. However, the company said its decision to do so was not related to the BRCA group. Facebook also said viewing the sensitive information was not a privacy flaw.

Facebook suggested instead members create "secret" groups that are more difficult to join and have limited discoverability, according to The Verge.

BRCA advocates and a security researcher filed the FTC complaint against Facebook. The complaint claims the company failed to disclose what personal information would be sharable. The complaint also states it is too simple for members in a group to gain information on fellow members.

Facebook is reportedly in negotiations to settle a multibillion dollar fine with the FTC on the privacy issue, The Verge noted.

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