Privacy can be a significant concern when it comes to sexual health, so users of telemedicine platform Hey Favor (formerly the Pill Club) may be alarmed to learn that the company has been hit with a proposed class action accusing it of secretly sharing users’ private health information with the likes of Meta, TikTok and a data analytics firm called FullStory.
According to the 44-page lawsuit, filed in California federal court on January 5, Hey Favor, Inc. uses various tracking tools on its website and app that can essentially record every action a user takes and share that data with third parties for marketing, advertising and analytics.
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While any potential privacy violation is concerning, Favor’s alleged conduct is “all the more egregious,” the lawsuit says, given the nature of its business—i.e., providing prescriptions for birth control, emergency contraception, STD testing and skin care products and selling menstrual care and sexual wellness products like condoms, lubrication and pregnancy tests.
To utilize Favor’s platform, users are required to provide a vast amount of sensitive personal and health information—such as prescription information, answers to highly personal health questions, medication side effects, allergies, age and weight—and this data is then tracked, intercepted and disclosed to third parties, the lawsuit claims. In FullStory’s case, Favor allows the company to intercept every interaction users have with its website, including clicks, keystrokes, mouse movements and information entered in response to medical questions, the suit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, this may come as a surprise to Favor’s users given the telemedicine platform consistently represents that the information it collects “is treated as Protected Health Information (PHI)” and never shared with third parties. In fact, the case says, Favor states in bold and capital letters, “WE DO NOT SELL OR MARKET YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION AT ANY TIME.”
The lawsuit alleges that consumers have “no way of knowing” Favor discloses their personal and health information to social media companies and data analytics firms given the software used to collect the data “is inconspicuously incorporated in the background” of its website and app.
The plaintiff, an Arkansas resident who filed the lawsuit under a pseudonym, claims that she and other Favor users expected that their personal and health information would remain confidential and not be disclosed or intercepted without their consent. The case argues that Favor’s unauthorized disclosure of consumers’ private information is “an extreme invasion of [their] privacy.”
What information is allegedly collected about Favor users?
According to the case, Favor discloses or allows third parties to intercept a wide range of personal and health information about its users, including the information they enter when opening an account, using Favor’s healthcare services or looking up information on its blog.
For instance, the suit says, a Favor user seeking to obtain a birth control prescription must first answer “an extensive medical history questionnaire” comprised of a series of highly sensitive health-related questions, such as “what type of birth control are you on?”; “are you pregnant?”; “how long has it been since you last gave birth?”; “how frequently would you like your period?”; “are you taking hormones?”; and other questions related to breastfeeding, menopause, breast cancer, high cholesterol, medications, blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension and more.
Per the case, patients also use Favor’s website and app to contact members of its patient care team, who can answer questions about their prescriptions, medication side effects or treatment plans.
Favor also sells over-the-counter sexual and reproductive healthcare products and skincare products and offers a blog where users can look up related information about sexual wellness, reproductive health and medications, the lawsuit relays.
According to the suit, the tracking tools on Favor’s website and app can be used to collect and disclose the information specifically entered by users, such as the answers to their health-related questions, and the actions they take on the platform, such as buying a pregnancy test kit or viewing a blog titled “Bleeding After Plan B: Causes & Side Effects.”
How does Favor allegedly track user information?
The lawsuit alleges that various tracking tools are used on Favor’s website and app to amass user information.
One such tool, the suit says, is called the pixel—a piece of code provided by social media companies such as TikTok and Meta that is used by advertisers (such as Favor, in this case) to collect data about how people use their websites to optimize their advertising campaigns.
TikTok and Meta, for their part, can also use the information collected through the pixel in connection with their advertising services—which is their main source of revenue, the case relays.
Per the suit, the TikTok and Meta pixels are both active on Favor’s website and can be used to track what pages users view, what buttons they click and the information they enter, as well as a unique identifier to connect their actions with their social media profiles.
Meta also offers a mobile version of its pixel called a software development kit (SDK), the complaint relays. Per the suit, app developers can use the Meta SDK to track when users download their app, make in-app purchases or take other specified actions.
Data analytics firm FullStory offers what’s called session replay software, which essentially records “every action that takes place on [the] site or app,” the suit says. According to the complaint, Favor has allowed FullStory’s session replay software to “intercept all of the users’ interactions on the Favor Platform—i.e., every click, tap, scroll, mouse movement and keystroke—including the highly sensitive medical information users entered into the Favor Platform when seeking treatment.”
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who used the Favor website or app and whose communications or data were shared with third parties, including Meta, TikTok and FullStory.
How do I join the lawsuit?
When a lawsuit is first filed, there’s usually nothing you need to do to join or be considered part of the suit. The time for Favor users to take action would be if and when the lawsuit settles, at which point those covered by the case, called class members, would receive direct notice of the settlement and instructions on what to do next. To find out how the lawyers will know who’s covered, check out this blog.
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