The headquarters of Meta (formerly Facebook) is seen in Menlo Park, California on November 9, 2022.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images
Popular tax preparation software including TaxActTaxSlayer and H&R block sent sensitive financial information to Facebook’s parent company Meta thanks to its widespread code, known as a pixel, which helps developers track user activity on their sites, a survey by markup found.
In a report with The Verge on Tuesday, the outlet discovered that the software was sending information such as names, email addresses, income information and refund amounts to Meta. Beacon discovered the data trail through a project earlier this year with Mozilla Rally called “Pixel Hunt,” where participants installed a browser extension that sent the group a copy of data shared with Meta through its pixel.
“Advertisers should not send sensitive information about individuals through our business tools,” a spokesperson for Meta told CNBC in a statement. “This is against our policies and we are teaching advertisers how to properly configure business tools to prevent this from happening. Our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data that it is able to detect.”
Meta considered potentially sensitive information to include income information, loan amounts and debt status.
The markup also revealed that TaxAct passed similar financial information to Google via its analytics tool, although this data does not include names.
“All Google Analytics data is obfuscated, which means it is not linked to an individual, and our policies prohibit customers from sending us data that could be used to identify a user,” a spokesperson said. from Google to CNBC. “Additionally, Google has strict policies against advertising to people based on sensitive information.”
Representatives for tax preparation services did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Read the full report at The edge.