U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    4,136.48
    -43.28 (-1.04%)
     
  • Dow 30

    33,926.01
    -127.93 (-0.38%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,006.96
    -193.86 (-1.59%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,985.53
    -15.69 (-0.78%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    73.23
    -2.65 (-3.49%)
     
  • Gold

    1,877.70
    -53.10 (-2.75%)
     
  • Silver

    22.40
    -1.22 (-5.17%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0798
    -0.0113 (-1.04%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    3.5320
    +0.1360 (+4.00%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2056
    -0.0173 (-1.41%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    131.1500
    +2.5460 (+1.98%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    23,392.35
    +52.13 (+0.22%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    535.42
    -1.43 (-0.27%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,901.80
    +81.64 (+1.04%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    27,509.46
    +107.41 (+0.39%)
     

Meta faces lawsuit for harvesting financial data from tax prep websites

'The Markup' previously reported that some tax prep services had been sending Meta financial information.

JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images

A group of anonymous plaintiffs who filed their taxes online in 2020 using H&R Block has sued Meta, accusing the company of violating users' trust and privacy. If you'll recall, a recent Markup investigation revealed that H&R Block, along with other popular tax-filing websites like TaxAct and TaxSlayer, have been sending users' sensitive financial information to Meta through its Pixel tracking tool.

Pixel is a piece of code companies can embed on their websites so they can track visitors' activities and identify Facebook and Instagram users to target with ads. Apparently, the aforementioned tax prep websites had been transmitting personal information, such as income data, filing statuses, refund amounts and dependents' tuition grants, to Meta through that code. The tax-filing services had already changed their Pixel settings to stop sending information or had been reevaluating how they used Pixel by the time Markup's report came out.

In a statement sent to Engadget when the news first came out, Meta said that advertisers are prohibited from sharing personal information and that it uses an automated system that can filter out sensitive content sent through Pixel. The plaintiffs acknowledged in their complaint (PDF, courtesy of The Markup) that Meta does require businesses that use Pixel to "have lawful rights to collect, use and share" user data before providing the company with any information. However, the plaintiffs argue that Meta makes no effort to enforce that rule and instead relies on a "broken honor-system" that has resulted in "repeated, documented violations."

According to The Markup, the lawsuit is seeking class action status for people who used the tax prep services mentioned in the publication's report. The services themselves, however, were not named as defendants in the case.