BetterHelp shares mental health data without consent - Mobile Privacy Briefing 2023.101

“BetterHelp will be required to pay $7.8 million for deceiving consumers after promising to keep sensitive personal data private” reads the subtitle to the FTC press release on 2 Mar 2023. While BetterHelp roll out the tired response that the settlement “is no admission of wrongdoing”, it can still be true if you don’t admit it.

What exactly did they do? From the FTC complaint:

BetterHelp used and revealed consumers’ email addresses, IP addresses, and health questionnaire information to Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo, and Pinterest for advertising purposes, according to the FTC’s complaint

The data was collected through their mobile app (with 1 mil+ downloads on Google Play) and their website.

So they provide a service to people when they are highly vulnerable, deceive them about their privacy practices and then share that data with exactly the companies you’d never want to let in on your struggles. And BetterHelp placed no limits on how the advertising companies could use the data.

I find BetterHelp’s response offensive because, once again, it’s completely misleading:

we do not share and have never shared with advertisers, publishers, social media platforms, or any other similar third parties, private information such as members’ names or clinical data from therapy sessions

Well, that’s great that you’re not sharing my name or data from therapy sessions but that’s not what the FTC fined you for. They were fined because they shared your email (pretty easy to find out manny people’s name from that) and the contents of the mental health questionnaire. So, let the deceiving continue.

You might want to take a look at the various names BetterHelp operated under as well in case

Various names BetterHelp operates under:

  • BetterHelp Counseling
  • Faithful Counseling
  • Teen Counseling
  • Pride Counseling
  • Compile, Inc.
  • MyTherapist
  • iCounseling
  • ReGain
  • Terappeuta