Health apps stop sharing sensitive data with Facebook after media reports

A report from The Wall Street Journal has led some popular health and wellness apps to cease data sharing with social network company Facebook after the practice was revealed.

The WSJ previously reported on Feb. 22 that at least 11 popular apps shared data of users, such as the weight logged, weight gains and losses, food logs, and other information about menstrual cycles, with Facebook. As of Feb. 24, several changed these practices, a WSJ test showed. Some apps, such as Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor and LoseIt!, ceased sharing data about users with Facebook.

The report comes at a time when healthcare data is increasingly being leveraged by organizations and providers to improve care and lower costs. Facebook also recently jumped into the ethics space after it provided $7.5 million in initial funding over five years to establish an independent research center focused on the ethics of AI. In the healthcare space, the ethics of AI have continually come up as an area of focus as the technology becomes more widespread.

According to Facebook, it contacted some advertisers and developers in response to the WSJ’s story, as its own policies prohibit partners from sharing sensitive information about users. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the apps’ transmission of personal information to Facebook upon news of the findings last week, the WSJ reported.

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