Hyderabad: A menstruation tracking app called Maya has reportedly shared its information with social networking giant Facebook, according to research carried
out by Privacy International.
Every single interaction between you and the app, such as when you open it, whether you have protected or unprotected sex, your period cycles, contraceptive pill use, how you’re feeling, and whether you have acne or breast tenderness, can be transferred to Facebook and become public knowledge.
Women use such apps for a range of purposes, from tracking their period cycles to maximising their chances of conceiving a child.
On the Google Play store, Maya, owned by India-based Plackal Tech, has more than 5 million downloads, according to Buzzfeed News.
Out of the 36 apps the Britain-based privacy watchdog tested, 61 per cent were found to be automatically transferring data to Facebook the moment the user
opens the app.
This happens whether the user has a Facebook account or not, and whether logged onto Facebook or not.
‘We also found that some of those apps routinely send Facebook incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive personal data. Again, it didn’t matter if people were logged out of Facebook or didn’t have an account,’ the report said.
According to the research there is a reason why advertisers are so interested in your mood; understanding when a person is in a vulnerable state of mind means
she can be strategically targeted.
Knowing when a teenager is feeling low means an advertiser might try and sell him a food supplement that is supposed to make him feel strong and focused.
Understanding people’s mood is an entry point for manipulating them. And that is all the more worrying in an age when Facebook is having so much impact on
our democracies, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed.
In an email conversation with this newspaper, a Maya app representative denied the report: “Reports of Maya leaking user data or breaching it for commercial
reasons are absolutely false, baseless and very very inaccurate.
“They are also one-sided and sensational. Like most apps, websites, we also use analytics and email tools like Google, Clevertap, Facebook Analytics and many
more. Every website, app and platform uses analytics to improve user personalisation and experience.”