Facebook is reportedly collecting sensitive data about people who visit the websites of Crisis pregnancy centres.
A collaborative investigation between two journalism nonprofits The Markup and Reveal analysed nearly 2,500 crisis pregnancy centre websites and found that at least 294 of them shared visitor information with Facebook.
This included sensitive personal information like whether a person is considering abortion or trying to obtain emergency contraceptives or a pregnancy test.
More than a third of the websites examined were found to send data to Facebook when someone made an appointment for an ‘abortion consultation’ or ‘pre-termination screening’.
At least 39 sites sent Facebook details such as the person’s name, email address, or phone number.
Privacy experts say that such data could potentially be used to identify abortion seekers in states where abortion is outlawed. The data could also be used as evidence against abortion seekers if Roe v Wade is struck down.
Facebook takes in data from crisis pregnancy centres using a tracking tool used for advertising called Meta Pixel that works whether or not a person is logged in to their Facebook account. It isn’t clear how Facebook uses this data about abortion seekers but it can reportedly be stored for years.
A crisis pregnancy centre or a pregnancy resource centre is a type of nonprofit organization to persuade pregnant women against having an abortion.
According to the report, the data collected by Facebook could be used by these centres to target advertising or misinformation at people to discourage people from choosing to get abortions.
Facebook’s system is ‘designed to filter out potentially sensitive data’ Dale Hogan, a spokesperson for Facebook parent company Meta, told news outlets.
He also said that it’s against Facebook’s rules for apps and websites to send ‘sensitive information about people’ through the company’s business tools.
Lawmakers and privacy experts have raised concerns about how technology can be used to target abortion seekers after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggested the landmark Roe v. Wade decision could be struck down.
In May, US lawmakers urged Google to ‘stop unnecessarily collecting’ customer location data that can be used to identify people who’ve had abortions.
Meta told Metro.co.uk that it did not have anything further to add beyond what was reflected in the report.