Tag: users

Costco accused of sharing users’ health data with Meta

Costco allegedly shared website users’ private communications and health information with Facebook-parent Meta without their consent, a lawsuit filed Friday said.

The lawsuit filed in Washington Western District Court alleges Issaquah-based Costco used Meta Pixel, a code that allows companies to track visitor activity on their websites, in the health care portion of its website. The tracking pixel would allow Meta to have access to users’ personal and health information.

“Costco represents to patients that its website, which includes its pharmacy webpages, is a secure platform,” said the suit, which is seeking a class-action status. “Yet, Costco fails to disclose or omits the fact that it shares patient online activities and personal health information with Meta via Pixel.”

Costco’s executive vice president of administration Patrick Callans said in an email Monday that the company won’t comment on pending litigation. The retailer has not filed an answer in court. 

Meta, which is not named as a defendant in this lawsuit, said in a statement its system can filter out sensitive data.

“Advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our business tools,” Meta said Monday. “Doing so is against our policies and we educate advertisers on properly setting up business tools to prevent this from occurring.” Costco is considered a Meta advertiser.

Costco’s pharmacy services include prescription refills, vaccine scheduling and home delivery. For users to sign up for the pharmacy services, they need to give Costco personal and health information. According to the lawsuit, Costco says it keeps the information secure and private, but using tracking services including Pixel violates the privacy.

“By secretly recording and transmitting data to Meta — without the user’s knowledge or consent — Pixel acts much like a traditional wiretap,” the lawsuit said.

Costco also violated users’ privacy because it let Meta collect communications

TikTok users prefer health guidance from influencers over medical experts: study – Doha News

As TikTok videos featuring popular influencers peddle health advice, a new study spotlights alarming trends, prompting urgent calls for integrating credible medical information into the digital landscape.

In an era where social media apps are shaping global discourse, a recent study by Washington State University (WSU) has thrown a spotlight on a critical issue.

TikTok is playing a pivotal role in influencing how users perceive and engage with health-related content, and the findings are as captivating as they are alarming.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Health Communication, TikTok’s predominantly young audience has a marked predilection for health-themed content delivered by their favourite influencers. The research points out that topics revolving around sexual health, diet, and exercise invariably go viral, while other significant health issues are largely ignored.

“Most of these videos weren’t providing attainable steps for behaviour change,” Nicole O’Donnell, Assistant Professor of Communications at WSU and the study’s lead author, said. “Instead, they’re sharing aesthetic details of what is often a highly unobtainable lifestyle.”

The research team, comprising of communications doctorate students, analysed videos from TikTok’s #EduTok campaign to glean a comprehensive understanding of user engagement.

They found an unsettling lack of audience interaction with mental health videos. Moreover, pertinent topics such as substance abuse prevention, bullying, and sexual violence prevention were conspicuously absent, despite being highly relevant to the platform’s teenage demographic.

Videos featuring influencers portraying the “role model” persona, as well as those deterring people from certain behaviours through shock value, garnered the highest engagement. However, these videos were found to be light on substantive information and deficient in promoting achievable behavioural changes.

A particularly disturbing trend highlighted by the study was the profusion of videos encouraging self-diagnosis of mental health conditions.

“Videos of people self-diagnosing their depression, anxiety, or other issues related

Fertility app Premom shared users’ health data without consent, FTC says

Fertility-tracking app Premom, owned by Easy Healthcare, came under fire by the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged the company shared consumers’ health data with third parties like Google, AppsFlyer and two China-based analytics and marketing firms for advertising purposes without user consent.

Premom is a free app that offers fertility tracking tools, including period and ovulation tracking. The company also sells ovulation test kits. 

The FTC’s investigation found the company shared users’ personal health information with third parties, such as identifiable location, health information and activities on the app related to users’ fertility, periods and pregnancy.

According to the Commission, the company did not disclose to users that it would share their health information while deceiving users about its data-sharing practices. The FTC also claims the company violated the Health Breach Notification Rule, which requires companies gathering personal health information to notify users and the government of a data breach by failing to inform users of its practices.  

Premom was instructed to refrain from sharing health information with third parties for advertising purposes or other purposes without users’ consent, to put into place a comprehensive privacy and security program for protecting users’ info and to tell the third parties to delete the information collected without users’ permission.

Easy Healthcare was ordered to pay a $200,000 settlement fee and is barred from sharing users’ data for advertising purposes, or with third parties, without user consent.

“Premom broke its promises and compromised consumers’ privacy,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We will vigorously enforce the Health Breach Notification Rule to defend consumer’s health data from exploitation. Companies collecting this information should be aware that the FTC will not tolerate health privacy abuses.”

THE LARGER TREND 

After Roe v. Wade was overturned,

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