Flo menstrual cycle data sharing

Released: March 2017
Occurred: February 2019

Can you improve this page?
Share your insights with us

Flo is a US-based period tracker and pregnancy app used by over 100 million people which allows users to 'access personalized health insights, virtual dialogs, and dozens of courses to learn how your cycle affects your body and well being.'

In February 2019, a Wall Street Journal investigation alleged that Flo had been sharing data with Facebook, Google, and others, every time a user had their period or indicated that they wanted to get pregnant, despite promising to keep users’ sensitive health data private.

The article sparked a strong backlash from civil rights and privacy groups, and customers, resulting in Flo Health settling with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in January 2021. According to the terms of the deal, Flo must notify affected users about the disclosure of their health information and stop misrepresenting how it collects, manages, and uses customer data.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court's controversial decision to overturn the 1973 Wade vs Roe ruling that legalised abortion across the US, Flo advised customers it would launch an ‘Anonymous Mode’ that removes their personal identity from their accounts, prompting further users to cancel their accounts.

Operator: Flo Health
Developer:
Flo Health

Country: USA

Sector: Health

Purpose: Track menstrual cycle

Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Marketing

System

Research, audits, investigations, inquiries, litigation

News, commentary, analysis