Meta facing lawsuit over reported tax sharing scandal

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Meta has been hit with a lawsuit for allegedly infringing upon users' right to privacy by collecting data from users of popular third-party tax software.

The filing relates to recent allegations that online tax software tools such as H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer used the company's "Meta Pixel", a piece of javascript code, to send information such as names, email addresses, income information, student loan data, and refund amounts back to Meta.

This would have then been used by the tech giant to produce custom, targeted ads based on the data on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Meta claims

The lawsuit, which was filed on December 1, concerns users using H&R Block.

The filing claims that even though users "expressly declined" to have their data shared with Meta, the company collected it anyway.

Though the plaintiff's filing did acknowledge that Meta required businesses to have a "lawful right to collect, use, and share" users' data, it went on to claim that did not honor this, instead relying “on a broken honor system that has resulted in repeated, documented violations of Meta’s own contractual promises and state and federal law".

Despite the alleged misconduct on the part of the tech giant, current users of the aforementioned pieces of tax software should have nothing whatsoever to worry about. 

According to The Markup, all the aforementioned tax platforms have already either removed Pixel entirely or changed its setting so as to not gather any additional financial information from users. 

It's important to note that the tax services themselves were not listed as defendants in the filing, placing all the alleged wrongdoing on the part of Meta.

Meta is certainly no stranger to legal disputes.

The company was hit with a €265 million data protection fine from the Irish Data Protection Commission over claims the firm failed to protect the personal data of half a billion users, bringing its total EU fines to date to well over €1 billion.

  • Want to ensure your data doesn't fall into the wrong hands? Check out our guide to the best privacy tools.

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.