WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- An investigative report revealed that two popular period tracking apps, Maya and MIA Fem, did “extensive sharing of sensitive personal data with third parties, including Facebook.”
- Maya’s founder and CEO claimed that they only “used tools from Facebook to improve product experience” but has since stopped sharing users’ data.
- Facebook, meanwhile, assured users that it is against their policy for apps to share personal data.
A new report claims that some period tracking apps have allegedly shared their users’ personal data on sexual activity with Facebook.
Privacy International, a U.K.-based watchdog non-profit, investigated two popular apps, Maya and MIA Fem. They discovered that the apps, which have millions of users, did “extensive sharing of sensitive personal data with third parties, including Facebook.”
At least one of the apps claims that it has since corrected the issue.
App users track their menstrual cycle by logging information such as the start and end of their period, symptoms like cramping, and sexual activity. Privacy International reported that the apps have been sending that information through Facebook’s Software Development Kit. The Facebook-created program helps app developers track product usage, set up advertising, and update their product accordingly.
The report stated, “One would hope this [sensitive] data would be treated with extra care. But no, that information is shared with Facebook.”
When Privacy International contacted Maya about this issue, the company’s founder and CEO made sure that the app no longer shares users’ data.
CEO John Paul told PEOPLE, “Maya does not sell data to Facebook or ANY third party. We have in the past used tools from Facebook, strictly to improve our product experience. We have proactively removed these tools from all versions of the app due to concerns about privacy.”
MIA Fem, meanwhile, requested Privacy International to keep their response private. Privacy International did not confirm if MIA Fem resolved the privacy issues.
Facebook assured PEOPLE that it is against their policy for apps to share personal data.
Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne declared, “Our terms of service prohibit developers from sending us sensitive health information and we enforce against them when we learn they are. In addition, ad targeting based on people’s interests does not leverage information gleaned from people’s activity across other apps or websites.”
Facebook has long been dealing with major privacy concerns. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had issued an apology to Congress after the company shared 87 million users’ data with Cambridge Analytica, a political research group that worked on President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Last fall, a data hack exposed nearly 50 million users’ personal information.
This March, Zuckerberg assured users that Facebook is working on becoming a “privacy-focused platform.”