A class-action lawsuit was filed accusing Meta, parent company of Facebook, of scraping healthcare data from hospital websites. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California last week accuses Meta, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Dignity Health Medical Foundation, of allowing Facebook to scrape healthcare data from hospital websites with Meta’s Pixel tool without user consent.
It’s the second proposed class-action against Meta alleging the social media giant is engaging in less-than-upstanding data privacy practices. Both follow a STAT News report detailing the alleged improper use of Meta’s Pixel tool on hospital websites.
When Meta’s Pixel tool is embedded onto third-party websites, it tracks user activities, navigation patterns, and the specific information entered into the webpage. According to the lawsuit, Pixel harvests the data and sends it to Meta, which stores it on its servers.
The benefits of this tactic to Meta are “far more sinister.” Particularly when the tool is incorporated onto a website without users’ consent, “Meta gains the ability to surreptitiously gather every user interaction with the website ranging from what a user clicks on to the personal information entered on a website,” according to the suit.
“Meta aggregates this data against all websites,” the lawsuit explains. When incorporated onto medical websites and a user enters their health information into the hospital websites and patient portals, Pixel gathers appointments, treatments, medical conditions, diagnoses, procedures, test results, and provider information, among other