Hospitals may unknowingly be sharing data on website visitors with Twitter

After coming under scrutiny in recent months for sharing patient information with Facebook parent company Meta, hospitals and health systems may also be inadvertently transmitting data to Twitter, the Washington Post reported Dec. 8.

The Twitter advertising pixel may be sending website visitor info back to the company, according to a report from digital ad analytics firm Adalytics. At least 70,000 organizations had the code on their sites as of November, including health systems, payers and universities.

"Government agencies, hospitals, over half of all U.S. members of Congress, media publishers, and brands may not be aware that they are sharing terabytes of their visitors' and audience's data with Twitter," Adalytics founder Krzysztof Franaszek wrote.

The report noted that this development is particularly troublesome because, under the terms of new owner Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter, anyone who invests $250 million or more in the social media giant is given more access to personal data of Twitter's users than lower-level investors, the Post has reported. That also applies to foreign investors, which include a Qatari fund and a Saudi prince's holding company in the high-level category.

"Researchers and journalists are revealing the full scale of the online surveillance schemes built by companies like Meta and Twitter," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an emailed statement to the Post. "Americans' data is being collected from websites belonging to hospitals, tax preparation companies and even the U.S. government. Organizations have an obligation to protect the privacy and security of users on their sites, but the sheer scale of this problem means that whack-a-mole solutions are not enough."

Twitter did not respond to a request from the Post for comment.

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