Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

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cadreamer2015
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Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by cadreamer2015 »

De gustibus non disputandum est
chinchin
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by chinchin »

Thanks for the share. Good thing I use Turbotax.
not financial advice
prd1982
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by prd1982 »

I'm assuming this is for the web version of the tax program, and that the desktop version isn't sending the data to Meta.

Anyone disagree?
criticalmass
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by criticalmass »

The article is a confusing read. It appears the problem involves "pixel" trackers on websites, which are tiny images (usually just one pixel wide) that you typically don't see but your browser loads them with their unique URL that may or may not be tied to your identity, and/or to track you across multiple website.

But the article states "Popular tax prep software including TaxAct, TaxSlayer and H&R Block sent sensitive financial information to Facebook parent company Meta through its widespread code..." That implies that the software you install on you computer is leaking sensitive information to Facebook or whoever. I don't think that is the correct conclusion, rather this involves tracking on websites. But it appears the web version of TaxAct, H&R Block, etc. may be using web trackers.

Not a great practice regardless, and many websites do this. You can also use browser privacy settings and add-ons/extensions that block your browser from loading pixel trackers in the first place.
jebmke
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by jebmke »

Skimming the original Markup story, this seems to apply to the online versions.
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by jebmke »

prd1982 wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:35 pm I'm assuming this is for the web version of the tax program, and that the desktop version isn't sending the data to Meta.

Anyone disagree?
that was my take
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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CRC_Volunteer
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Facebook and Online Tax Preparation Data Sharing

Post by CRC_Volunteer »

[Thread merged into here --admin LadyGeek]

For your reading pleasure:

https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/22/234 ... fo-sharing
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Katietsu
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Katietsu »

I guess this is the same Meta Pixel that has led to a breach of sensitive personal information of millions of patients using MyChart. Not good.
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by LadyGeek »

I merged CRC_Volunteer's thread into the ongoing discussion.

(Thanks to the member who reported the post and explained what's wrong.)
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Nicolas
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Nicolas »

I’m so glad I’ve been using only TurboTax since 1994. I’m also glad that I never joined FB which seems to be the incarnation of evil.
While lying on the floor one cannot fall. — Franz Kafka
yolointopants
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by yolointopants »

Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:46 pm I’m so glad I’ve been using only TurboTax since 1994. I’m also glad that I never joined FB which seems to be the incarnation of evil.
Whether you made a Facebook account or not, they're still collecting massive troves of data on you. I don't remember exactly how I did it, but there was a way to download all of the data Facebook had. And it was shocking the granularity that they are able to gather by stalking your every move you make online. They say the data is de identified. Complete BS. It has everything except your name: your voting block, your ZIP Code, your income, children, interest, groups you into all sorts of different slice and dice categories from marketers to target advertising directly to you.

And this is completely independent of you actually using Facebook or not. I've since installed some privacy blockers from electronic frontier foundation, and some decent browser extensions to limit this.
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Nicolas
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Nicolas »

yolointopants wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:52 pm
Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:46 pm I’m so glad I’ve been using only TurboTax since 1994. I’m also glad that I never joined FB which seems to be the incarnation of evil.
Whether you made a Facebook account or not, they're still collecting massive troves of data on you. I don't remember exactly how I did it, but there was a way to download all of the data Facebook had. And it was shocking the granularity that they are able to gather by stalking your every move you make online. They say the data is de identified. Complete BS. It has everything except your name: your voting block, your ZIP Code, your income, children, interest, groups you into all sorts of different slice and dice categories from marketers to target advertising directly to you.

And this is completely independent of you actually using Facebook or not. I've since installed some privacy blockers from electronic frontier foundation, and some decent browser extensions to limit this.
I know they do this, I think they call it a shadow account or something like that. I refuse Instagram and WhatsApp too because guess who owns them? I wonder how a person is able to download the data they’ve got on you if you don’t have and never had an account.

My family members unfortunately use it. So they probably know about me too. But hopefully nobody can tag me in photos. One family member tried to quit and swore he’d stay off. This was after FB recommended he “friend” a tradesman he’d hired for some renovations. Well, he failed, he’s back on now.

If you use DuckDuckGo or another privacy browser that should shield you from their prying eyes, no?
While lying on the floor one cannot fall. — Franz Kafka
jebmke
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by jebmke »

Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:08 pm
My family members unfortunately use it. So they probably know about me too. But hopefully nobody can tag me in photos. One family member tried to quit and swore he’d stay off. This was after FB recommended he “friend” a tradesman he’d hired for some renovations. Well, he failed, he’s back on now.

If you use DuckDuckGo or another privacy browser that should shield you from their prying eyes, no?
FB is the drug that OxyContin always aspired to be. Free, highly addictive and available world wide instantly.
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yolointopants
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by yolointopants »

Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:08 pm
yolointopants wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:52 pm
Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:46 pm I’m so glad I’ve been using only TurboTax since 1994. I’m also glad that I never joined FB which seems to be the incarnation of evil.
Whether you made a Facebook account or not, they're still collecting massive troves of data on you. I don't remember exactly how I did it, but there was a way to download all of the data Facebook had. And it was shocking the granularity that they are able to gather by stalking your every move you make online. They say the data is de identified. Complete BS. It has everything except your name: your voting block, your ZIP Code, your income, children, interest, groups you into all sorts of different slice and dice categories from marketers to target advertising directly to you.

And this is completely independent of you actually using Facebook or not. I've since installed some privacy blockers from electronic frontier foundation, and some decent browser extensions to limit this.
I know they do this, I think they call it a shadow account or something like that. I refuse Instagram and WhatsApp too because guess who owns them? I wonder how a person is able to download the data they’ve got on you if you don’t have and never had an account.

My family members unfortunately use it. So they probably know about me too. But hopefully nobody can tag me in photos. One family member tried to quit and swore he’d stay off. This was after FB recommended he “friend” a tradesman he’d hired for some renovations. Well, he failed, he’s back on now.

If you use DuckDuckGo or another privacy browser that should shield you from their prying eyes, no?
Maybe. I think you have to take the onion approach where you're blocking as many trackers as you reasonably can a multitude of ways while still having a functional experience.

This is one option:
https://www.eff.org/pages/privacy-badger
itsmeagain
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Some online tax apps share data with Facebook

Post by itsmeagain »

[merged into existing topic - moderator prudent]

The quotation below is from an article at The Verge, a technology-oriented news website, and relies on work done by The Markup, a nonprofit source. The article is titled "Tax filing websites have been sending users’ financial information to Facebook."

Concerns about the security of personal data are one reason I will only use the downloaded versions of tax-preparation software, not the web-based versions.
Major tax filing services such as H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have been quietly transmitting sensitive financial information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online, The Markup has learned.

The data, sent through widely used code called the Meta Pixel, includes not only information like names and email addresses but often even more detailed information, including data on users’ income, filing status, refund amounts, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts.
https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/22/234 ... fo-sharing
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tuningfork
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by tuningfork »

criticalmass wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:36 pm The article is a confusing read. It appears the problem involves "pixel" trackers on websites, which are tiny images (usually just one pixel wide) that you typically don't see but your browser loads them with their unique URL that may or may not be tied to your identity, and/or to track you across multiple website.

But the article states "Popular tax prep software including TaxAct, TaxSlayer and H&R Block sent sensitive financial information to Facebook parent company Meta through its widespread code..." That implies that the software you install on you computer is leaking sensitive information to Facebook or whoever. I don't think that is the correct conclusion, rather this involves tracking on websites. But it appears the web version of TaxAct, H&R Block, etc. may be using web trackers.

Not a great practice regardless, and many websites do this. You can also use browser privacy settings and add-ons/extensions that block your browser from loading pixel trackers in the first place.
It's referring to "Meta Pixel" which is the name Meta/Facebook uses for a snippet of Javascript code that websites can use to send tracking data to Meta. Much more powerful and privacy-invading than a simple pixel image tracker.

My interpretation of the article is that it's only the web-based versions of the various tax software using this tracking code, not the downloaded/installed versions. But what do I know?
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by brad.clarkston »

tuningfork wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:33 pm
criticalmass wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:36 pm The article is a confusing read. It appears the problem involves "pixel" trackers on websites, which are tiny images (usually just one pixel wide) that you typically don't see but your browser loads them with their unique URL that may or may not be tied to your identity, and/or to track you across multiple website.

But the article states "Popular tax prep software including TaxAct, TaxSlayer and H&R Block sent sensitive financial information to Facebook parent company Meta through its widespread code..." That implies that the software you install on you computer is leaking sensitive information to Facebook or whoever. I don't think that is the correct conclusion, rather this involves tracking on websites. But it appears the web version of TaxAct, H&R Block, etc. may be using web trackers.

Not a great practice regardless, and many websites do this. You can also use browser privacy settings and add-ons/extensions that block your browser from loading pixel trackers in the first place.
It's referring to "Meta Pixel" which is the name Meta/Facebook uses for a snippet of Javascript code that websites can use to send tracking data to Meta. Much more powerful and privacy-invading than a simple pixel image tracker.

My interpretation of the article is that it's only the web-based versions of the various tax software using this tracking code, not the downloaded/installed versions. But what do I know?
I wouldn't assume that if I was you. Meta Pixel can scrape information from client servers as well as end user browsers and the tax companies are sending it from there back-end system so I wouldn't feel all that safe using those three installed applications.
-- Only a Sith deals in absolutes --
Samueul
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Samueul »

Wonder if FreeTaxUSA is affected? I didn't see any mention of it and a quick search of it and Meta Pixel doesn't come up with anything definitive.
BH_RedRan
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by BH_RedRan »

If you want to be truly horrified, maybe try a website scanner such as "Blacklight", created by themarkup.org on your favorite sites.

For fun I ran it on these sites and here are abbreviated results:

nerdwallet's tax estimator site. 80 cookies, 30 ad trackers including unblockable ones to meta/facebook and google analytics.
NO keystroke monitoring, NO session recording. So, likely the actual entries are not sent but disconcerting anyway.

calculator.net tax calculator No apparent trackers on this site although some browsing information was sent to alphabet and amazon.
I have actually used this site and was somewhat relieved at the result.

FreetaxUSA.com According to the result: "This website could be monitoring your keystrokes and mouse clicks."

Bogleheads.org No trackers detected and no data sent off to third parties. THANK YOU Bogleheads.org!

themarkup.org (Creator of Blacklight scanner.) They self-report no tracking.

[Edited to fix typo.]
Last edited by BH_RedRan on Tue Nov 22, 2022 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Eno Deb
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Eno Deb »

brad.clarkston wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:50 pmI wouldn't assume that if I was you. Meta Pixel can scrape information from client servers as well as end user browsers and the tax companies are sending it from there back-end system so I wouldn't feel all that safe using those three installed applications.
This is not accurate. The "Meta Pixel" is Javascript code running in the browser. It cannot "scrape" anything from the tax preparation companies' servers (and your term "client servers" makes no sense in this context).

And yes, the article refers to the online tax applications, not the downloaded versions. If you want you can install a software firewall to make sure that the desktop versions do not "phone home" to Zuckerberg.

I just wish our lawmakers would finally put a stop to this ubiquitous spying by Facebook, Google and other companies. Alas, their lobbyists have deep pockets, and we have the best Congress money can buy ...
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by brad.clarkston »

Eno Deb wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 5:45 pm
brad.clarkston wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:50 pmI wouldn't assume that if I was you. Meta Pixel can scrape information from client servers as well as end user browsers and the tax companies are sending it from there back-end system so I wouldn't feel all that safe using those three installed applications.
This is not accurate. The "Meta Pixel" is Javascript code running in the browser. It cannot "scrape" anything from the tax preparation companies' servers (and your term "client servers" makes no sense in this context).

And yes, the article refers to the online tax applications, not the downloaded versions. If you want you can install a software firewall to make sure that the desktop versions do not "phone home" to Zuckerberg.

I just wish our lawmakers would finally put a stop to this ubiquitous spying by Facebook, Google and other companies. Alas, their lobbyists have deep pockets, and we have the best Congress money can buy ...
Most installed Microsoft/Apple desktop applications have been web based for years, just because the microcode at the browser level is javascript has no bearing on what Meta Pixel is doing once it's been transmitted to a Facebook DC, your being way to blase over this.

People should be outraged over this - Facebook has absolutely no reason to be getting this data let alone the companies pretending they have no idea it's happening.
-- Only a Sith deals in absolutes --
Eno Deb
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Eno Deb »

brad.clarkston wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 6:01 pmMost installed Microsoft/Apple desktop applications have been web based for years
That doesn't mean they run 3rd party tracking code like many web pages. If the tax software I use had tried to contact the Facebook domains used by the "Meta pixel" I would know because I run software that alerts me of such connection attempts.
just because the microcode at the browser level is javascript has no bearing on what Meta Pixel is doing once it's been transmitted to a Facebook DC, your being way to blase over this.
Sorry to say, but your use of terms like "client servers" and "microcode" in this context suggests that you have no understanding of the technology at all. No reason to spread fear without any basis in facts.
gavinsiu
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Your tax software may be selling your info to Meta

Post by gavinsiu »

[Merged into existing thread - moderator ClaycordJCA]

So I notice this this morning which talked about Tax software sharing info with Meta.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/22/234 ... fo-sharing

I wonder if there are settings that we can setup to reduce or eliminate data being sent to meta. I don't have a facebook account, so I suspect what they have on me is limited.
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Cheez-It Guy
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Re: Your tax software may be selling your info to Meta

Post by Cheez-It Guy »

Not too bad for TurboTax.
ddbtoth
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by ddbtoth »

Nicolas wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:46 pm I’m so glad I’ve been using only TurboTax since 1994. I’m also glad that I never joined FB which seems to be the incarnation of evil.
When you don’t have to pay for the service, you are the payment.
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by InMyDreams »

Katietsu wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:33 pm I guess this is the same Meta Pixel that has led to a breach of sensitive personal information of millions of patients using MyChart. Not good.
Missed that one - do you have a link?
Shortsellforfun
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Shortsellforfun »

Eno Deb: Right-on ... we need to watch the paranoia about microcode (used inside a CPU) and client-servers (used by Intuit which should have strong security and certainly not install Meta pixels). Do you have rec'd browser installs or do you use a HW firewall between your browser and Internet? Something like Privacy Badger is cheap/easy and s/b ubiquitous (everyone install!).

Next question is might VFS (VG, Fido, Sch) use Meta (aka Facebook) Pixels to assess their advert effectiveness too! (argh!) Have they sworn off?

PS - /. has huge coverage on this topic (slashdot.org). All for review post-turkey! The "Apple DSID" revelation is another concern to our desire for privacy (not a settled debate but concerning)
Shortsellforfun
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Shortsellforfun »

Google Analytics is similar to Meta Pixel. Don't feel that a FB login protects you; with our without a login, they still Pwn you as you surf (https doesn't protect your screen).

With care, they pwn less. Learn; use; enjoy!
sycamore
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by sycamore »

InMyDreams wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 7:55 pm
Katietsu wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:33 pm I guess this is the same Meta Pixel that has led to a breach of sensitive personal information of millions of patients using MyChart. Not good.
Missed that one - do you have a link?
A search for "meta pixel mychart" finds several incidents. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=meta+pixel+mychart
Eno Deb
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Eno Deb »

Shortsellforfun wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 7:58 pm Eno Deb: Right-on ... we need to watch the paranoia about microcode (used inside a CPU) and client-servers (used by Intuit which should have strong security and certainly not install Meta pixels). Do you have rec'd browser installs or do you use a HW firewall between your browser and Internet? Something like Privacy Badger is cheap/easy and s/b ubiquitous (everyone install!).
My first recommendation would be to use the desktop apps instead of the web versions. This also reduces the risk of tax fraud since you don't need an online account that criminals could break into.

If you have to use the web versions, use a browser with tracking protection, e.g. Firefox with uBlock Origin or Brave (Privacy Badger might also do the trick, but I'm not familiar with it). You can also use a software firewall to block the domains facebook.com and facebook.net. If you have a good router (e.g. a pfSense box) or a PiHole, you may be able block the domains in the DNS settings as well, but most simple consumer routers don't have that option.
LLeaff
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Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by LLeaff »

I'm not sure where to post this but I thought it might be of interest.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/202 ... with-meta/

TLDR; Many online tax preparation services have been disclosing various levels of information about their users to Meta.

I'm not sure how I feel about this... I use the desktop version of H&R block. I've never bothered trying to do my taxes manually because of the dollar cost of the software was relatively low. However if these shenanigans are occurring I might have to reconsider.

Is this going to influence anyone's use of these tools?
Kookaburra
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by Kookaburra »

Wow. Velvet Revolver was right… we really are all just slaves to a big machine.
Joey Jo Jo Jr
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by Joey Jo Jo Jr »

I’ve never understood why someone didn’t start a nonprofit version of the various social media companies that ensured privacy and put the vampires out of business. Are the IP limitations that difficult to overcome?
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by 9-5 Suited »

Joey Jo Jo Jr wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 11:42 pm I’ve never understood why someone didn’t start a nonprofit version of the various social media companies that ensured privacy and put the vampires out of business. Are the IP limitations that difficult to overcome?
It's still a business that requires tons of capital to be invested both to maintain the application at global scale w/ hundreds of millions of users as well as to innovate in such ways as consumers find worthy of their time in a competitive world. Non-profits don't do a good job with innovation and investment intensive businesses. They are generally much better at basic service provision, and social media absolutely is not that. Just look how quickly Tik Tok displaced market share from other really high-quality alternatives.
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by AlohaJoe »

Joey Jo Jo Jr wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 11:42 pm I’ve never understood why someone didn’t start a nonprofit version of the various social media companies that ensured privacy and put the vampires out of business. Are the IP limitations that difficult to overcome?
There have been many such attempts. Why do you assume it would be automatically successful? They have all failed for a reason. The people have spoken: they don't value privacy and most aren't willing to pay even $1 for it.
LLeaff
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by LLeaff »

AlohaJoe wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 11:53 pm ... The people have spoken: they don't value privacy and most aren't willing to pay even $1 for it.
In this case it appears that people payed for a service and their privacy was still violated.

I wonder what the implications are if someone used the services but doesn't have a Facebook account
Joey Jo Jo Jr
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by Joey Jo Jo Jr »

AlohaJoe wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 11:53 pm
Joey Jo Jo Jr wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 11:42 pm I’ve never understood why someone didn’t start a nonprofit version of the various social media companies that ensured privacy and put the vampires out of business. Are the IP limitations that difficult to overcome?
There have been many such attempts. Why do you assume it would be automatically successful? They have all failed for a reason. The people have spoken: they don't value privacy and most aren't willing to pay even $1 for it.
Didn’t realize that. I would have thought, by now, there would be enough people interested in a nonprofit social media solution to get it going if there were reasonable options. I’m sure inertia is an issue for active users, but this stuff seems pretty fickle from my outsider perspective, so maybe there’s a chance some influencers can get it going.
TravelGeek
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Re: Article: Major tax-filing websites secretly share income data with Meta

Post by TravelGeek »

Earlier thread that this one will presumably get merged into:

viewtopic.php?p=6974821
Kendall
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Kendall »

Thanks to the member who reported the duplicate thread. LLeaf’s thread has been merged into the discussion.
Tamales
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Tamales »

jebmke wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:39 pm
prd1982 wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:35 pm I'm assuming this is for the web version of the tax program, and that the desktop version isn't sending the data to Meta.

Anyone disagree?
that was my take
One would think (or maybe "hope") the downloaded/desktop version wouldn't be involved in this practice. Part of the reason I buy the more costly downloadable version and avoid online or cloud based versions is because of these sorts of info-sharing issues that (to me anyway) almost seem to give implied consent when you use the cheaper (or free) online versions).

I note, however, that many of the applications I have installed on my desktop share usage info with the mother ship but they do (allegedly) give some control of what that information is. It's never clear what, and how often, this information is shared however.

Still, the original article on TheMarkup.org fails to mention any distinction between online and downloaded versions. There doesn't appear to be a way to contact the authors of that article to ask them to clarify explicitly any distinctions between online and download versions.

For the software developers here: would it be correct to say that the downloaded/installed version would have to go through extra and intentional steps to repackage personal info gathered from within the installed software, and that could then be repackaged into this "Meta pixel" format and and sent to Meta? IOW, if the downloaded versions are doing this too, they cannot plead ignorance or default settings?
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enad
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Re: Your tax software may be selling your info to Meta

Post by enad »

gavinsiu wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 7:37 pm So I notice this this morning which talked about Tax software sharing info with Meta.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/22/234 ... fo-sharing

I wonder if there are settings that we can setup to reduce or eliminate data being sent to meta. I don't have a facebook account, so I suspect what they have on me is limited.
The article states it doesn't matter if you have a Facebook account, Facebook still collects the data and makes it available to others for a few. Some companies buy data to build a profile on you that is probably much larger than you can imagine and of course that information is also available for sale.

There are no settings that you can use to turn off the information. The manufactures of the software chose to embed the Meta Pixel code into their software and benefit from it themselves in order to offer the public "free" software. Turns out that "free" has (surprise) strings attached. What's even worse the IRS sometimes refers folks to free online versions of the software. I am old fashioned and use the disc version of tax software, then print and mail my returns, but I also set up my taxes so that I get at most $25 back from the state and the federal government so I am not expecting a large return (I'd rather make use of the money than the state/feds having an interest free loan).
What Goes Up Must come down -- David Clayton-Thomas (1968), BST
gavinsiu
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Re: Your tax software may be selling your info to Meta

Post by gavinsiu »

enad wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 11:13 am The article states it doesn't matter if you have a Facebook account, Facebook still collects the data and makes it available to others for a few. Some companies buy data to build a profile on you that is probably much larger than you can imagine and of course that information is also available for sale.

There are no settings that you can use to turn off the information. The manufactures of the software chose to embed the Meta Pixel code into their software and benefit from it themselves in order to offer the public "free" software. Turns out that "free" has (surprise) strings attached. What's even worse the IRS sometimes refers folks to free online versions of the software. I am old fashioned and use the disc version of tax software, then print and mail my returns, but I also set up my taxes so that I get at most $25 back from the state and the federal government so I am not expecting a large return (I'd rather make use of the money than the state/feds having an interest free loan).
I used the non-online version too.
VanGar+Goyle
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by VanGar+Goyle »

criticalmass wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:36 pm The article is a confusing read. It appears the problem involves "pixel" trackers on websites, which are tiny images (usually just one pixel wide) that you typically don't see but your browser loads them with their unique URL that may or may not be tied to your identity, and/or to track you across multiple website.
These Meta pixels are not the cute little pixels that let them know you loaded a web page.
The Meta Pixel is a piece of code on your website that can help you better understand the effectiveness of your advertising and the actions people take on your site, like visiting a page or adding an item to their cart. You’ll also be able to see when customers took an action after seeing your ad on Facebook and Instagram, which can help you with retargeting. And when you use the Conversions API alongside the Pixel, ...
The Conversions API is designed to create a direct and reliable connection between marketing data (such as website events and offline conversions) from your server, website platform or CRM to Meta. This marketing data helps power ad personalization, optimization and measurement on Meta so that your ads are shown to people who are more likely to find them relevant ... obey our off-Facebook activity tool

So it is more than just tracking.
Eno Deb
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Eno Deb »

VanGar+Goyle wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 12:54 pmSo it is more than just tracking.
Yes, but it has no business being used in web applications that deal with highly sensitive information, such as tax preparation services.
palaheel
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Major tax-filing sites routinely shared users’ financial info with Facebook

Post by palaheel »

[Merged into previous discussion - moderator oldcomputerguy]

From https://www.popsci.com/technology/tax-p ... -facebook/
A deep dive from The Markup and The Verge published this morning explains in detail how some of the country’s most popular tax prep software makers, including H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct, utilized the popular Meta Pixel tracking tool to amass sensitive data including names, email addresses, incomes, refunds, filing statuses, and even dependents’ college scholarship amounts from annual filings.
and
Since the joint investigation, several of the surveyed sites of since deactivated some of Meta Pixel’s features, according to The Markup. TaxAct continued to send dependents’ names to Facebook, while H&R Block still relayed health savings and college tuition grant amounts. According to legal experts, these services must provide clear and concise consent agreements offering exactly who receives filing information, and how it is used. None of the companies’ privacy agreements mentioned Meta, Facebook, or Google (who also receives some of this data),...
Gulp
Nothing to say, really.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Major tax-filing sites routinely shared users’ financial info with Facebook

Post by SmileyFace »

Reported yesterday:
viewtopic.php?t=390865#p6974821
I always do some searches first before posting - someone usually beats me.

Looks like TurboTax isn't mentioned so perhaps I am in the clear.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by ClevrChico »

Samueul wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:57 pm Wonder if FreeTaxUSA is affected? I didn't see any mention of it and a quick search of it and Meta Pixel doesn't come up with anything definitive.
I have not seen it listed in the articles, thankfully. The idea Facebook did this is infuriating. Facebook advertising is beyond creepy at this point. I recently reached a milestone birthday and the ads for prescriptions and scary ads about diseases have started pouring in. I find I use FB less and less.
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Raraculus
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Raraculus »

I'm not sure how this piece of Meta software affects tax prep software for end users?

For example, I always use the desktop version of HR Block. They would have no reason to include Meta code, as advertising is not in the desktop version. But, if I were to use the online version of HR Block via the web browser, and can see advertisements, then it's safe to say that Meta possibly has harvested my private information?!?

Obviously, this is bad for end users using tax software. Financial information is private and personal - it shouldn't be shared with advertisers and companies.
criticalmass
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by criticalmass »

VanGar+Goyle wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 12:54 pm
criticalmass wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 12:36 pm The article is a confusing read. It appears the problem involves "pixel" trackers on websites, which are tiny images (usually just one pixel wide) that you typically don't see but your browser loads them with their unique URL that may or may not be tied to your identity, and/or to track you across multiple website.
These Meta pixels are not the cute little pixels that let them know you loaded a web page.
The Meta Pixel is a piece of code on your website that can help you better understand the effectiveness of your advertising and the actions people take on your site, like visiting a page or adding an item to their cart. You’ll also be able to see when customers took an action after seeing your ad on Facebook and Instagram, which can help you with retargeting. And when you use the Conversions API alongside the Pixel, ...
The Conversions API is designed to create a direct and reliable connection between marketing data (such as website events and offline conversions) from your server, website platform or CRM to Meta. This marketing data helps power ad personalization, optimization and measurement on Meta so that your ads are shown to people who are more likely to find them relevant ... obey our off-Facebook activity tool

So it is more than just tracking.
One thing to do is to avoid using platforms like Meta that gather your information, track you with their information correlated with what you voluntarily provide, then sell your information, personalized data, and patterns to whoever likes it. There are other techniques like browser extensions, personal firewalls, and name resolution sinkholes that also can prevent your machine from sharing data to unfriendly sites like Meta/FB/etc.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Tax prep software sharing sensitive financial data with Meta

Post by Mudpuppy »

Eno Deb wrote: Tue Nov 22, 2022 8:22 pm If you have to use the web versions, use a browser with tracking protection, e.g. Firefox with uBlock Origin or Brave (Privacy Badger might also do the trick, but I'm not familiar with it). You can also use a software firewall to block the domains facebook.com and facebook.net. If you have a good router (e.g. a pfSense box) or a PiHole, you may be able block the domains in the DNS settings as well, but most simple consumer routers don't have that option.
You can run both uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger at the same time. They have slightly different approaches, so they are complimentary plugins. I also run NoScript in Firefox with uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. I also have the HTTPS Everywhere plugin, although that functionality is primarily enforced by browsers directly now, so it'll be retired soon from my plugin lineup.
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