Facebook stops collection of user health data after New York investigation

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Facebook will no longer collect unauthorized data about people's medical and other sensitive information following recommendations from a New York Department of Financial Services investigation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The state began investigating Facebook after a 2019 WSJ report claimed that personal health apps, including period and pregnancy tracker app called Flo, were quietly passing data to the social media giant.

Facebook's official terms had prohibited app developers from giving the company data from children about health and other sensitive topics, but the company told the New York financial services department it had "routinely obtained" such information from developers, going against its own service terms and policies, according to the Feb. 18 report.

Flo Health reached a settlement in January with the Federal Trade Commission in which it said it would now get users' consent before sharing the health information.

After admitting it had received sensitive data without permission, Facebook rolled out actions to block app developers from providing data that included 70,000 terms related to topics such as sexual health and medical conditions. The company also built a machine learning system to improve its detection of private data, according to the report.

 

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