Meta and Facebook logo depicted
Meta and US hospitals sued for the use of healthcare data to target ads. Source: The Tech outlook

Meta, US hospitals sued for using healthcare data to target ads
The lawsuit was against Meta, the Dignity Health Medical Foundation and the UCSF Medical Centre

Meta and Facebook logo depicted
Meta and US hospitals sued for the use of healthcare data to target ads.
Source: The Tech outlook

A lawsuit against social media giant Meta Platforms Inc, the UCSF Medical Centre and the Dignity Health Medical Foundation was filed in the Northern District of California this week. It accuses the establishments of unlawful collection of crucial healthcare information in relation to its patients for targeted advertisements.

Such monitoring and information is apparently collected in medical portals out of its login limitations. This is where patients log their extremely sensitive personal data, their doctors, medications prescribed, medical states, and beyond.

As specified by the class action suit, the social media company and the hospitals did not tell the patients regarding the collection of the information. Moreover, no request for their permission, and clearly sources did not find any sign of this happening any time soon. The ones filing the lawsuit reportedly saw their privacy being violated when they saw Meta’s Facebook showing them targeted ads surprisingly in sync with their specific conditions.

The role of the Meta Pixel code:

This code is the size of singular pixel when put into a website, assisting in collecting user information like their IP address, button clicks, details put in forms and pattern of their scroll, etc. Though this can be collected for people who do not have a page on Facebook, data of ones with a profile is connected to their page for better understanding. Owing to its presence in various sites, people maybe monitored, along with targeting with advertisement on several internet sites.

According to the suit, this code from Meta is situated on about 33 websites of the 100 best medical facilities in the country. Moreover, in about seven instances, the code runs way past patient portal which are secured with passwords. Moreover, the lawsuit stated how the centres, 33 in number, which have this code in total, had more than 26 million patients with them, along with visits from people in just the year 2020.

Violation of privacy through targeted advertisements:

The complaint shows how the plaintiffs are feeling wronged as they never gave consent to their crucial information being collected, or its use in such practices. Moreover, the Facebook parent contains a condition regarding these in its privacy policy. It says Meta Pixel hosts have the legal rights to gather, utilise and share this information prior to giving it to marketers.

The plaintiffs alleged that the tech giant and medical centres of being aware of the illegality of the collection, and how it is still continued, with them hiding it. Various concerned authorities found out how Meta’s steps to glean out sensitive data from the gathered data has been proven to be rather fruitless.