- A new lawsuit alleges that Meta used people’s medical data without permission for targeted ads on Facebook.
- This is the second recent lawsuit accusing hospitals of sharing sensitive patient data with Meta.
- According to the lawsuit, a person received advertisements for his heart and knee problems based on his inpatient portal.
A new lawsuit alleges that Meta accessed the private medical data of millions of people without permission and used it to serve targeted ads for drugs and treatments on Facebook.
The lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Northern District of California, is the second such lawsuit that accuses US hospitals of providing Meta with sensitive patient information and violating HIPAA. The Verge originally reported on the lawsuit earlier on Tuesday.
The complaint says these hospitals used Meta’s Pixel tool, which then accessed password-protected patient portals and shared sensitive health information which Meta then sold to Facebook advertisers.
Meta Pixel is a tool that allows companies to measure and create audiences for advertising campaigns.
In June, a survey by nonprofit newsroom The Markup found that 33 of the top 100 US hospitals use the Meta Pixel.
The complaint details the experience of a Facebook user who began receiving targeted ads for drugs related to heart and knee conditions that she entered on her private patient portal at the University of California, San Francisco Medical. Center.
Meta’s policy states that advertisers should not share data with Meta that they know includes health information, financial information, or other sensitive categories of information. However, the lawsuit accuses Meta of knowingly collecting this sensitive medical data from healthcare websites.
Meta declined to provide Insider comment on this story.
Meta has come under fire for its data tracking policies in the past, and Insider reported that the company is building a “basic ad” product that doesn’t rely on users’ personal information.