Facebook gained access to ovulation cycle, heart rate — Popular apps scramble to end data sharing

Around 11 popular health and fitness apps allowed Facebook to gain access to sensitive personal data, according to The Wall Street Journal, which ran its own test to identify apps that were sending personal information to Facebook.

Through Facebook-provided software, the popular fitness and health apps sent Facebook sensitive data in aggregated forms. Facebook then used the data to place ads. Even if users were not members of Facebook their information was sent to the social networking giant.

Since the Feb. 22 report, which discovered various health apps were data sharing, some apps have scrambled to put an end to sending information to Facebook. At least four apps, including "Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker" and "Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor," have cut off transmission of data to Facebook.

Lose It from FitNow was another app that was sending personal data to Facebook. The popular food- and exercise-logging app has since stopped sending Facebook users' logged information, including weight gained, lost and calorie content.

To go a step further, Flo Health, maker of the ovulation app, has deleted Facebook's software from the app. The company also requested Facebook delete the previously shared user data.

Facebook is now developing a new system to detect and block uploads of personal information by apps, according to WSJ. The company's software development kit is one of the most popular. Competitors in the tech industry disagree if Facebook is responsible for the data sharing, as it is an "industry-standard practice," through SDKs, a Facebook spokeswoman told WSJ.

"Every part of this data chain says, 'oh look at some other part is doing this or that.' They're all correct," Zeynep Tufecki, PhD, an associate professor at Chapel Hill-based University of North Carolina, told WSJ. "The whole surveillance-industrial complex is corrupt and its mechanisms aren't clear to ordinary people."

M ore articles on health IT:
GE sells biopharma business to Danaher for $21.4B, reconsiders healthcare IPO
Bankrupt Arizona hospitals ordered to give former patients access to their EHRs
Trump calls for 5G, wants US to lead in wireless networks

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2019. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months