Period tracker apps caught sharing sensitive health data with Facebook

Popular period tracker apps used by millions of women are sharing sensitive personal information such as monthly timings, contraception use, symptoms, mood, and sexual life to Facebook.

Some of the apps, including Maya and MIA Fem: Ovulation Calculator, have millions of downloads on the Google Play Store. They are also available for the iPhone.

“The data you share with your menstruation app is probably information you would not share with others,” Privacy Internation noted.

The data sharing happens via Facebook’s software development kit (SDK) that gives app creators a full range of tools to develop apps tailored to Android and iOS. Facebook Business Tools, such as tracking pixels, and Like and Share buttons that you see on sites across the web also send data automatically to the social media giant.

Sharing intimate medical data

Given the confidential nature of medical data, the idea that your blood pressure, mood and sexual life is shared with a third-party — Facebook or otherwise — without seeking explicit informed consent is a cause for concern.

In response, Maya, Pinkbird, and Grupo Familia have removed the offending SDK from its apps. Facebook, for its part, puts the onus on app makers not to break platform rules or misuse its developer tools to collect private information. But it’s not clear whether Facebook has directly benefited from such data sharing in the first place.

“Our Terms require the app developer to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us and to have a lawful basis for the disclosure and use of data,” Facebook said in a statement.