Tax filing websites send users’ financial Information to Facebook for ads

According to an investigation by The Markup, tax filing websites such as TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block have been found to be secretly transmitting sensitive financial information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online via its widespread code known as a pixel that helps developers track user activity on their sites.

Meta pixel trackers were found in the software involved, which obviously violated Meta’s policies by sending information such as names, email addresses, income information, and refund amounts to Meta. The information sent to Facebook by these websites are used to power its advertising algorithms and is gathered regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or other platforms operated by Meta.

Users are asked to provide personal information on TaxAct in order for their returns to be calculated, including how much money they make and their investments. A pixel on TaxAct’s website then sent some of that information to Facebook, including users’ filing status, adjusted gross income, and refund amount. TaxAct was also discovered to be sending similar financial data to Google through its analytics tool, though this data did not include names.

H&R Block’s website includes a pixel that collects data on filers’ use of health savings accounts and dependents’ college tuition grants and expenses. While TaxSlayer is said to be sending personal information to Facebook as part of Meta’s advanced matching system, which collects data on web visitors in an attempt to link them to Facebook accounts.

All of these were discovered by the Markup earlier this year as part of a project with Mozilla Rally called Pixel Hunt, in which participants installed a browser extension that sent the group a copy of data shared with Meta via its pixel.

The sources for this piece include an article in TheMarkup.

IT World Canada Staff
IT World Canada Staff
The online resource for Canadian Information Technology professionals.

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