Facebook has been caught out receiving sensitive information from some of Britain’s largest charities supporting mental health. The data came after users visited supporting websites and included sensitive information, such as their browsing history, depressed content, struggles with eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. Shockingly, even children were not safe from Facebook’s prying eyes, with data being shared from a page aimed at ages from 11 to 18. Although the information did not include any confidential messages sent to or from charities, it did include confidential browsing history. This included charities such as Mind, Shout, Rethink Mental Illness, and Beat. Furthermore, the IP address of these users could also be linked to an individual or household, causing even more concern regarding privacy. Luckily, most of the charities involved have now removed the tracking tool and apologised. Last week, Observer investigated and found that 20 NHS England trusts were sharing data with Facebook for targeted advertising, resulting in all 20 trusts ceasing to use the tracking tool. The tool, Meta Pixel, was provided by Facebook to organisations for website performance and user behaviour, but the data was used by Facebook themselves for their own targeted advertising purposes. The parent company, Meta, reassured users that they do not collect sensitive data, but the idea that Facebook receives sensitive data from users browsing mental health support websites remains alarming.
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