App and privacy: how to turn your menstrual cycle into money (for others)


Privacy International, an English charity, has reviewed the most popular menstrual control apps and found that some of them share data with Facebook.

It should be noted that these apps not only track your menstrual cycle but collect information about your health, sex life, mood and more – to calculate the day of the month you are most fertile or the date of your next period.

The researchers wanted to make sure that this data was only used by the apps, rather than being shared with other companies. Initially, they looked at the most popular applications: Leap Fitness Group’s Period Tracker; Flo Health, Inc.’s Period Tracker; Simple Design Ltd.’s Period Tracker; and Biowink’s Clue Period Tracker. All of these apps do not transfer the collected data to third parties.

The researchers then looked at other popular applications and analyzed Plackal Tech’s Maya, Mobapp Development Limited’s MIA, Linchpin Health’s My Period Tracker, Pinkbird’s Ovulation Calculator, GP International LLC’s Period Tracker and Grupo Familia’s Mi Calendar.

The results obtained are really worrying. Maya’s traffic analysis revealed that this app informs Facebook whenever the app opens. But not only that. Maya shares with this social, if entered by the user, the type of contraceptive used, the mood, sexual relations, whether they have been protected or not! These data, in addition to Facebook, are also shared with CleverTap, a platform for customer loyalty.

MIA also shares information on the menstrual cycle with Facebook and AppsFlyer. MIA also offers the possibility to enter data not only on health and moods but more generally on habits such as the use of coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, tampons. All these data are shared with Facebook, as well as information related to sex life!

Other apps share data with Facebook. Here you will find the link to the research that is very detailed.

These apps naturally have an informative statement that summarizes the use of the data that the app manufacturer can make, even if they are not very transparent and do not indicate, for example, who are the third parties to whom the information is transferred. The event of opening the app is however traced and shared even before the information and consent.

The interest in collecting and sharing data is linked to the economic value they possess. Data from pregnant women is particularly valuable for advertisers: expectant parents are consumers who are likely to change their shopping habits. In the United States, for example, the data of an average person is worth an average of $0.10, while that of a pregnant woman is worth $1.50.

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