(WTTV/WXIN) — A new investigation shows pharmacies are sharing some of our most sensitive health information with social media companies.
According to the report by The Markup and KFF Health News, twelve of the nation’s largest pharmacies share what some consumers buy on their websites, including contraception and HIV tests.
The report found the websites for Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Costco, Sam’s Club, Rite Aid and more have trackers, or “pixels,” that gather data on what consumers are browsing and buying. That information is being shared with Meta, Google and Microsoft.
The specific information being gathered is about as private and sensitive as you can get. It includes when a shopper looks at or buys *plan-B* emergency contraception, pregnancy tests, HIV tests and prenatal vitamins. Another investigation by ProPublica found some pharmacy websites that sell abortion pills are sharing that information with Google and other third parties.
In response to the investigation, some of the pharmacies indicated plans to walk back their tracking. Others blame the tech companies and advertisers for not saving or misusing the data collected by the trackers.
Fortunately, you can limit this from happening by clicking “no” when the website asks about collecting and sharing information about your visit.
You know when those little windows about “Cookie Preferences” pop up? That’s one place where you can take a few seconds to make sure you’re saying “no thank you.”
In addition, all major web browsers have specific settings for limiting tracking and sharing on specific websites. Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox and Opera can each be configured to limit website data tracking when you browse.
Those settings can also be customized for individual websites, adding another barrier between your information and companies that would use it for targeted advertising.