According to new research, the mega-popular period tracker apps send very personal information about women’s health and intimate practices to Facebook.
UK-based group Privacy International shared its findings with BuzzFeed News, and they discovered that period-tracking apps, including Maya and MIA Fem, sent women’s use of contraception, the timings of their monthly periods, symptoms, and more, directly to Facebook.
Women use these apps to track their period cycles, maximize their chances of conceiving a child, and so on.
Maya, which is owned by Plackal Tech, has been downloaded more than 5 million times on the Google Play store, and MIA Fem, owned by Mobapp Development Limited, says that it has more than 2 million users around the world.
Apparently, the data sharing happens via Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK) which helps app developers collect user data so Facebook can show them targeted ads, among other features. So, when a user puts personal information into the app, the information can be directly sent to Facebook.
When asked about the report, Facebook told BuzzFeed news that it had gotten in touch with the apps to discuss possible violations of its terms of service, including sending prohibited types of sensitive information.
The report said that when the app asks you to enter how you feel and offer suggestions of symptoms you might have, that information is shared with Facebook.
According to the report, the app also shares data about the users’ use of contraception, the analysis found, as well as their moods. The app also asks the user to enter information about when they’ve had an intimate relationship, and what kind of contraception they used. That information is also shared with Facebook.
As we know already, advertisers are interested in people’s moods because it helps them target ads to people at times they might be more likely to buy an item. For example, women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant are more likely to change their shopping habits.
Privacy International’s analysis found that the data MIA Fem collects isn’t immediately shared with Facebook, but it enables the app to suggest articles to app users. The articles, which are tailored to a user’s selected interests, are shared with Facebook.