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US lawmakers question Facebook on privacy of health groups

IANS  |  San Francisco 

A day after was accused of exposing sensitive health data of its users in "closed" groups, US lawmakers have written a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to brief them about the latest concerns.

A complaint filed by a and others with the (FTC) on Monday alleged that "lures users into sharing their personal health information in closed groups".

"marketed this product as a Personal Health Record and it then leaked the health data that those patients uploaded to the public," said the complaint.

On Tuesday, the sent a letter to Zuckerberg on this, saying "the consumer complaint raises a number of concerns about Facebook's policies and practices".

"Facebook's systems lack transparency as to how they are able to gather personal information and synthesize that information into suggestions of relevant medical condition support groups.

"Labelling these groups as closed or anonymous potentially misled Facebook users into joining these groups and revealing more personal information that they otherwise would have," wrote the lawmakers.

The lawmakers said they want a staff briefing from Facebook on this issue no later than March 1.

A Facebook spokesperson, however, denied the was misleading users about

"Facebook is not an anonymous platform; real-name identity is at the center of the experience and always has been.

"It's intentionally clear to people that when they join any group on Facebook, other members of that group can see that they are a part of that community, and can see the posts they choose to share with that community," the said in a statement.

The issue was first noticed last July, when members of a women's group with a gene mutation discovered how easily the names and email addresses of members could have been downloaded in bulk, either manually or through a Chrome extension, The Verge reported.

--IANS

na/ksk

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 20 2019. 10:04 IST
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