Health data to Facebook: Transfer these apps without asking

Is this really a new development or have we had this case recently? According to a media report, various apps have transmitted highly sensitive health information to Facebook without the consent of users. The network is cool.

The fact that the largest social network in the world has anchored a collective rage in its digital DNA is only surprising for very few of us. Nevertheless, the discovery of theWall Street Journalanother setback in the rehabilitation of Facebook.

The US magazine revealed that different applications – especially health and fitness apps – transmit their users’ personal health data directly to Facebook.

However, this happens without the consent of the users. Nor can they prevent the transmission of their highly sensitive data. As theWall Street JournalNow, thanks to a plug-in, eleven out of 70 tested iOS apps sent individual information to Facebook.

Among the apps is the popular application Flo Health. She provides her female users with a virtual menstruation and ovulation calendar including ovulation calculator. Likewise, the app HR Monitor, which indicates the heart rate, and Realtor, a real estate app, were tested “positively”.

The purpose of this transfer: Due to this information, Facebook can optimize the targeting of its ads and play ads tailored to profiles.

This systematic procedure is not new: For a long time, external apps have been actively forwarding data to Facebook in order to more easily reach existing and newly registered Facebook users through advertising.

Somehow familiar, but different

But the case revealed by the US newspaper has a different quality. Personal and highly sensitive health data are under special protection.

The tested apps can generate accurate profile information and tell users whether they are on a diet, how well they are moving during the day or week, and whether a user wants to get pregnant.

In the case of the menstruation app Flo Health, Facebook matches the collected and transmitted information with real profiles of its own platform. For example, advertisers can see these ads with products that support their possible and future parenting happiness.

The operators of the app stores – Google and Apple – know nothing about the automatic transmission of data. The reason: sharing this highly sensitive data is not a standard permission such as location, language, and camera access.

Whether the app operators are paid for the data transmitted by Facebook, however, is unknown.

Facebook knows about the health data

Responding to the allegations, Facebook reacted calmly. One knew of the transmission. At the same time, however, the app developers are instructed to stop this, according to a company spokeswomanWall Street Journal.If the developers do not follow the instructions, further action will be taken.

In some cases, the network claimed to be self-active and deleted data on its own if data was illegally skimmed off. This applies, for example, to bank details or social security numbers of the users.

It is interesting, however, that a patent application filed in 2018 intends exactly this procedure – namely the optimization of its own algorithms in order to be able to play ads even more sharply and purposefully.

The future of the transparent patient

Exactly this situation is played out in many future scenarios: Health insurance companies monitor and control the health, eating habits and general lifestyle of their members based on extensive data.

It may be possible that those who are more likely to belong to the Couch Potato faction are denied. Equally conceivable: some pay higher contributions than those who train regularly in the morning in the gym.

But that is future music. Regardless of Facebook, the operators of the many health and fitness apps on the market are advised to rethink their business models. For quite unselfish transmitted no company data on Facebook.

Who cooperates with the network, at least the indignation of some users can be sure. Generally applies to us users: Caution. Our data never dry up. And that can cost us later – possibly – expensive.

Also interesting:

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  • Image gallery: This is how Facebook works in Berlin

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