• Facebook’s Meta Pixel was found on 33 hospital websites, sending Facebook information linked to an IP address, which identifies individual computers and may be traceable back to an individual or household.
• The pixel tracks what doctors are searched for and health-related search terms added to search boxes or selected from dropdown menus.
• The Meta Pixel was found in patient portals from seven health systems; data being collected included names of medications being taken, descriptions of allergic reactions and upcoming doctors’ appointments.
• More than 26 million patient admissions and outpatient visits have been shared by the 33 hospitals using Meta Pixels, and that’s likely conservative.
By now, most people are aware that if they “like” a certain page on Facebook, it gives the social media giant information about them.
“Like” a page about a particular disease, for instance, and marketers may begin to target you with related products and services.
Facebook may be collecting sensitive health data in far more insidious ways as well, however, including tracking you when you’re on hospital websites and even when you’re in a personal, password-protected health information portal like MyChart.
It does this via pixels, which may be installed without your knowledge on websites you visit. They can collect information about you as you browse the web, even if you don’t have a Facebook account.