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Mental health app shares data with Facebook
© Golib Tolibov |
Security & privacy

Did you use this mental health app? It shared data with Facebook

Professional therapy can be expensive. Fortunately, mental health apps can help without breaking the bank. But the last thing you want is for one of these apps to share your medical data with the most prominent social media networks.

Read on for details on a popular mental health app accused of sharing users’ information with Facebook and other platforms.

BetterHelp app fined nearly $8M

While some apps focus on meditation and breathing exercises, others can put you in contact with therapists or someone to listen to you.

One of the most popular options is BetterHelp, which provides access to online mental health professionals. But what would typically be considered confidential conversations turns out to be sharable secrets.

It was recently discovered that BetterHelp sent user health data to social media platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat for targeted advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now stepping in, proposing a ban on sharing mental health data. It also suggests that BetterHelp pay $7.8 million to impacted users.

“When a person struggling with mental health issues reaches out for help, they do so in a moment of vulnerability and with an expectation that professional counseling services will protect their privacy,” explains Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

According to the FTC, BetterHelp offers several services, such as Faithful Counseling focused on Christians, Teen Counseling, and Pride Counseling, which is targeted at the LGBTQ community.

In many instances, users are expected to provide their name, email address, and birth date and pay between $60 to $90 per week for counseling.

Stay tuned for ways to file a claim against BetterHelp

The FTC’s proposed actions against BetterHelp must be approved by the commissioners after being opened to public comment. It will likely be passed, as the commissioners voted 4-0 in favor of the penalties in the first round.

Once formalities are complete, the FTC will release details on filing a claim against BetterHelp if you’ve been impacted. The only detail we know so far is that it includes users who signed up for and paid for BetterHelp’s services between Aug. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2020.

Keep reading

Check your phone – These prayer and mental health apps fail to protect your data

WebMD for Gen Z: Kids diagnosing mental health disorders online

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