Facebook is facing new privacy allegations that smartphone users’ data is being shared with the social media giant without their knowledge.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal citing testing the paper conducted on its own, Facebook collects personal information from many of the most popular apps on smartphones within seconds of users entering the information. It occurs even when the customer doesn’t have a Facebook account or is not logged in to the Facebook app. The paper reported the apps send the data without any specific disclosure that is prominent so that users are aware.
The paper said that based on its testing, at least eleven popular apps that have tens of millions of downloads combined share sensitive information entered in by users. In the testing, the paper found that Instant Heart Rate:HR Monitor, which is the most popular heart rate app in the App Store, sent heart rate information on users to Facebook right after it was recorded. The Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, which the paper said boasts 25 million active users, sent information on when users were ovulating to Facebook. The app also informed Facebook of the users’ intention to become pregnant. Meanwhile, Realtor.com sent Facebook the location and price of listings that users viewed, even noting which ones were marked as favorites, reported The Wall Street Journal. The paper noted that none of the apps gave the users a way to stop the data from being shared with the social media giant.
In The Wall Street Journal report, Facebook said the testing does look like it violates the company’s business terms, which instruct developers not to give it any information on users covering their health and finances as well as other categories that include sensitive information. It said it is alerting apps pinpointed by the WSJ to stop sending information that is considered sensitive and that it could take further action if they don’t comply with Facebook’s privacy requests. “We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us,” a Facebook spokeswoman told the paper.