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Facebook’s latest dirty trick? Tracking you before you leave the womb

Another day, another Facebook privacy scandal. According to reports this week, the company has been gathering user data from dating apps and even one that helps women monitor their journey through pregnancy by recording baby kicks and scan images.

German mobile security firm Mobilsicher claims Android apps like Tinder, Grindr and Pregnancy+ are quietly transmitting ‘sensitive’ user data to Facebook, believing it to be anonymised.

The information is being “purposefully collected” by the social network through its Software Developer Kit, which enables third-party developers to incorporate logins via Facebook, while also offering apps insightful usage metrics.

A Buzzfeed report says personal information like religious affiliation, dating profiles, and healthcare data is being transmitted to Facebook, regardless of whether those people are logged into the social network or not.

Mobilsicher said: “Most developers we asked about this issue assumed that the information Facebook receives is anonymised,” but that is far from the case. The app user’s IP address, type of device, time of use and Advertising ID data is also being transmitted to Facebook, potentially making it possible for the firm to join the dots, identify users and target them.

Related: How to delete your Facebook account permanently

Bible+, Curvy, ForDiabetes, Kwitt, Migraine Buddy, Moodpath, Muslim Pro and OkCupid are among the other Android apps that Mobilsicher tested during its experiment. So, if you’re a Migraine Buddy user suddenly receiving loads of ads across Facebook platforms offering you a quick fix, this could be a contributing factor.

However, it’s not as if Facebook is trying to deny this means of data harvesting. The company’s privacy policy states that it can gather information from apps that use SDKs, as well as its APIs.

While Facebook gleans all of this valuable data in order to inform its targeted advertising, the apps in question receive useful usage metrics from Facebook. They’re able to see things like dwell time and where users click on the app.

While Facebook makes clear it is going to take this data, it doesn’t necessarily make this an ethical decision users of the Android apps would be comfortable with. Harvesting data from a pregnancy app, which is used to monitor the most intimate human experience imaginable? Ew, Facebook. Just… ew.

Who had more scandals in 2018? Facebook or Donald Trump? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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