Home Markets Popular tax preparation software has submitted financial information to Meta: report

Popular tax preparation software has submitted financial information to Meta: report

by SuperiorInvest

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 included TaxActTaxSlayer a H&R Block sent sensitive financial information to parent company Facebook Target through its extended code, known as a pixel, which helps developers track user activity on their sites, which is an investigation Mark found.

In a report shared with The Verge on Tuesday, the server found that the Meta pixel trackers in the software sent information such as names, email addresses, revenue information and refund amounts to Meta, in violation of its policies. Markup also found that TaxAct was passing on similar financial information Google through its analytics tool, although this data did not include names.

As CNBC explained in 2018, Meta uses small pixels that publishers and businesses put on their websites. When you visit, the dots send a message back to Facebook. And it allows companies to target ads to people based on the pages they’ve previously visited.

The report says Facebook could use information from tax websites to power its advertising algorithms, even if someone using the tax service doesn’t have a Facebook account. It’s another example of how Facebook’s tools can be used to track people on the web, even without users knowing.

Some statements provided to The Markup suggest that this may have been a mistake.

A spokesperson for Ramsey Solutions, a financial consulting and software company that uses a version of TaxSlayer, told The Markup that it “did NOT know and was never informed that Facebook was collecting personal tax information from the Pixel,” and that the company informed TaxSlayer to disable Pixel tracking from SmartTax.

A spokesperson for H&R Block said the company takes “protecting our clients’ privacy very seriously and we are taking steps to mitigate the sharing of client information through pixels.”

The Markup 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 via its pixel.

“Advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our trading tools,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “Such behavior is against our policies, and we teach advertisers how to properly set up business tools to prevent this. Our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data that it is able to detect.”

Target he thinks potentially sensitive information that includes information about income, loan amount and debt status.

“All data in Google Analytics is obfuscated, meaning it is not tied to an individual, and our policies prohibit customers from sending us data that could be used to identify a user,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. “Additionally, Google has strict policies against advertising to people based on sensitive information.”

Representatives for TaxSlayer and TaxAct did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full report at The Verge.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

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