Tax Filing Companies Are Leaking Sensitive User Financial Data to Facebook

Tax season can be a stressful time for the average American, and that is why so many of them turn to professional tax filing services because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making the whole process easier for them. According to a startling revelation from the Markup, it turns out that these tax filing agencies which include the likes of TaxSlayer, H&R Block and TaxAct have secretly been providing Facebook with extremely sensitive user data pertaining to finances.

No one will be surprised that Facebook is harvesting user data in such an underhanded manner, since this company is no stranger to methods that most would deem to be in a moral grey area at best. In spite of the fact that this is the case, the cooperation of so many tax filing agencies who have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the data of their users indicates that the problem goes much deeper than anyone currently believes.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that these websites all include code called Meta Pixels. This code can then transmit personal data, including data related to their personal finances, to Facebook. Facebook then uses this data to further personalize their advertising algorithm in order to make the ads more accurate than might have been the case otherwise.
TaxAct has been sending user gross income, investment returns as well as their names and address to Facebook. The name is sent encrypted, but it is not difficult to decrypt it and strip the user of their anonymity with all things having been considered and taken into account. Facebook is collecting data that users would have wanted to keep private, and it is doing so without even informing the users beforehand.

The onus is on both Facebook as well as the tax filing agencies that are complicit in this dangerous data collection practice to end their illicit ways. Facebook has been scrambling to make up for the loss of third party tracking, and this is one of the tactics it has employed.

Read next: New Report Confirms People Aren’t Viewing Facebook’s Political Content
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