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Rupi Kaur Instagram period censorship
Courtesy of Rupi Kaur

Your period tracker app might be sharing your sensitive data to Facebook

That data includes when millions of women last had sex

From face filters to virtual reality, technology is a huge part of our lives, especially for those of us needing to keep track of our cycles. When it comes to those dreaded days of the month, period tracking apps can be your best friend, or in this case, your frenemy.

A recent study by Privacy International and subsequent report by Buzzfeed News found that some period tracking apps are forwarding user’s data onto Facebook. Apps including Maya, MIA, My Period Tracker, Ovulation Calculator, and Mi Calendario all reportedly shared user’s tracking data to Facebook and other third-parties.

Facebook’s long lineage of  data harvesting means its role in this should come as no surprise, recalling the Cambridge Analytica scandal all too well.

Period tracking apps prompt users to reveal all – that is, your drinking habits, your sex life, your moods, general ups and downs – you get the idea. These apps have them when on to share this information with Facebook, which tailors adverts to how users are feeling according to their apps. Meaning then that platforms like Facebook can target pregnant women who may be looking for specific items, or target people in moods when they’ll be more likely to spend. That’s the same psychographic targeting that was used in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so yeah. Who knew Trump and menstruation could have so much in common, aside from both being a bitch.

“When Maya asks you to enter how you feel and offers suggestions of symptoms you might have - suggestions like blood pressure, swelling or acne – one would hope this data would be treated with extra care,” the report details. “But no, that information is shared with Facebook.”

Maya has a reported 5 million downloads on Google Play, while MIA Fem touts two million users across the world.

In response, a Facebook spokesperson said the platform had “gotten in touch with the apps Privacy International identified to discuss possible violations of its terms of service including sending prohibited types of sensitive information.”

“We have systems in place to detect and delete certain types of data such as Social Security Numbers, passwords, and other personal data, such as email or phone number. We have begun looking at ways to improve our system and products to detect and filter out more types of potentially sensitive data.”

But if you are wanting to put a virtual post-it note over your period tracking webcam, then heads up that popular apps Clue and Flo reportedly do not forward data to Facebook.