Following the WSJ’s report in which the publication revealed that at least 11 popular apps have been sending sensitive user data to Facebook, a New York regulator has asked the social networking giant and the involved developers for explanation.
In its report WSJ revealed that popular fitness applications have been sending user health data that includes BMI, food consumptions, heart-rate, menstrual cycles, alcohol consumptions, blood pressure, calories burned during workouts and sexual activity to Facebook. What’s more alarming is that these apps often don’t even mention that they are sharing data shared by users with Facebook.
The apps mentioned in the report include the following, many of whom can be considered household names for fitness savvy users.
- Lose It!
- BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts
- Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker
- Weight Loss Fitness by Verv
- GetFit: Home Fitness & Workout
- Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor
- BetterMen: Fitness Trainer
- Realtor.com Real Estate Search
- Trulia Real Estate: Find Homes
- Breethe: Sleep & Meditation
- Glucose Buddy
While the letters were sent to developers of all apps that were named in the report, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was also addressed in one of the letters that requested information on all companies that have sent data to Facebook via software provided by the company over the last three years. The letter asked the company’s CEO to provide categories of data that were shared with the company and list of New York state residents that were included in it.
The kind of data shared by these applications is of sensitive nature, and includes sexual activity logged by the user. LoseIt, which stopped shared this data with Facebook following WSJ’s report was found sharing information like colarie count for each food item logged in the app, exercises logged by the user and even shared data that contained sexual activity logged by the user.
A popular food- and exercise-logging app, Lose It! stopped sending Facebook sensitive personal information, Sunday’s test showed. In earlier tests, the app had been sending Facebook the weight users logged, along with how much they had gained or lost, and the caloric content of every food item they logged. It also sent the caloric value of every exercise logged: When a user entered having completed 45 minutes of “sexual activity” during one test, the app sent that information to Facebook along with an estimate of how many calories the activity burned: 46 […]
Facebook isued the following statement while saying it is reviewing the letter sent by the regulator.
“It’s common for developers to share information with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics,” the spokeswoman added. “We require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us.”