An investigation has revealed that some popular menstruation apps are sending very personal data including when women last had sex to Facebook and other 3rd-party services without any user consent or knowledge. This data is shared via Facebook's Software Development Kit (SDK), a set of software development tools that can be used to develop apps for a specific operating system.

Menstruation apps, most of them, don't only help women track their periods but also collect information about health, sexual life, mood and more.

"Maya by Plackal Tech (over 5 million downloads on Google Play) is the kind of app that wants you to share. A lot. The problem is what you share won’t stay between you and Maya. Our traffic analysis reveals, first of all, that Maya informs Facebook when you open the app. There is already a lot of information Facebook can assume from that simple notification: that you are probably a woman, probably menstruating, possibly trying to have (or trying to avoid having) a baby. Moreover, even though you are asked to agree to their privacy policy, Maya starts sharing data with Facebook before you get to agree to anything. This raises some serious transparency concerns," reads part of the research by Privacy International.

How Maya's menstruation app shares users medical data with Facebook. Source: Privacy International

This revelation not only raises obvious questions about privacy but also about how possibly this data is being used to target advertisements at women based on their mood or any of the other data they have captured. More worrying, as detailed by Privacy International, the sharing of data with Facebook starts before users have even agreed to the Privacy Policy or given any other consent.

β€œWe may share Your information with our sponsors, and/or business partners. Your Information could be shared so that you may receive newsletters, offers, information about new services, and other information, if applicable. The information collected from You and other users may be analysed in different manners," reads Maya's privacy policy.

Apart from Facebook, it is not clear who the other 3rd-party services and partners are who get to receive the user data. Also, it is not clear if the data sent to Facebook and the 3rd party services is anonymized or not.

"The data of pregnant women is particularly valuable to advertisers: expecting parents are consumers who are likely to change to their purchasing habits. In the US for instance, an average person’s data is worth $0.10, while a pregnant woman’s will be $1.50," reports Privacy International.

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