Science/Tech

FTC Accuses Facebook Of Revealing Sensitive Health Data In Group

Facebook has been facing a series of controversies. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused the social media network of sharing sensitive health data files.

Controversies are not yet over for Facebook. Since last year, the social media platform’s privacy policies have been questioned, and the issue reached the Senate and a hearing was held for it.

Just recently, FTC filed a complaint accusing the giant social media network of failing to keep the privacy of sensitive health data in its groups, The Verge reported.

The complaint was filed in January and was revealed on Monday. The complaint contains accusation that the company “improperly disclosed information on members of closed groups.” The issue was brought up in July 2018 when members of a group of women with a gene mutation called BRCA discovered that sensitive information, such as names and email addresses of members, can be downloaded in bulk. It can be done manually or through a Chrome extension. 

Amid the issue, Facebook made some changes to the groups that ended the practice. The social media network said that the changes were not related to the BRCA group’s concerns. 

Facebook informed the public that the feature to view the data was not a privacy flaw. It also noted that there was an option for “secret” groups — the feature that made a chat group difficult to join but also has more limited discoverability.

A security researcher and BRCA advocates are among those who filed a complaint against Facebook. The groups said that the company failed to clarify what personal details of users might be given up if they join the group. 

Facebook did not give any comments regarding the issue. According to the source, the social media network is now negotiating a multibillion-dollar fine with the FTC over privacy lapses.

Apart from this issue, Facebook has been reported to have used the Onavo virtual private network app to gather information on competitors, BBC reported. A report from a Commons committee has detailed how FB used an application to spy on users. In the same long report, it details the influence of fake news on the site in elections.

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