Apps share sensitive user data with FB

Originally Published: April 1, 2019 Last Updated: April 1, 2019

A Wall Street Journal investigation in late February 2019, found that Facebook was able to receive information from numerous apps, even when the user did not have a Facebook account. The Journal tested more than 70 popular apps to find that 11 sent potentially sensitive information to Facebook. These included Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, which reportedly shared with Facebook when its users were having their periods or trying to become pregnant.

  • The report found that an analytics tool called App Events allowed app developers to record user activity and report it back to Facebook. Although Facebook's terms prohibit app developers from sending them sensitive data, it appeared to be accepting such data without asking the developers to stop.
  • The Journal found that Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor and real-estate app were also sending app data across to Facebook. It was found these apps did not provide users any option to stop the data-sharing.
  • New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, called on its departments of state and financial services to “immediately investigate” what he called a clear invasion of consumer privacy. 
  • Facebook said the discoveries the Journal made were of so-called "custom app events" with parameters defined by the app makers without any input from Facebook.
  • Flo Health told the Journal that it would “substantially limit” its use of analytics tools provided by other companies. It said that the analytics department at Facebook is separate from the social media platform.