According to a research, Facebook’s advertising capabilities are tracking those looking for abortion services. According to a Reveal report, Facebook is gathering data on anyone who visit the websites of pregnancy crisis centers. The findings raise concerns about the potential exploitation of that data, as well as Meta’s capacity to police its advertising policies.

Reveal discovered hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers employing the Meta Pixel on their websites after conducting an investigation with The Markup. The Meta Pixel helps businesses to track who visits their websites in order to produce Facebook advertising that are more targeted. As the study points out, “crisis pregnancy centers” aren’t usually licensed medical facilities and aren’t subject to HIPAA or other privacy requirements. They are “primarily run by religiously aligned organizations whose aim is to persuade people to select an option other than abortion,” according to the report.

The Meta Pixel is supposed to filter out “sensitive” health data, which is what Reveal discovered was being collected, according to Meta’s guidelines. “In many situations, the information was exceedingly sensitive,” according to Reveal. “For example, whether a person was considering abortion or looking for a pregnancy test or emergency contraceptives.” In some situations, the social network also received information about desired appointments. Third-party anti-abortion marketing organizations were also able to access data acquired by the Meta Pixel, even though their websites had not been visited, according to the research.

“It is against our regulations for websites and applications to provide sensitive information about people through our Business Tools,” Meta said in a statement to Reveal, referring to the Meta Pixel. “We endeavor to educate advertisers on how to properly set up our Business Tools, and our technology is meant to filter out any sensitive material it identifies.”

Following the publication of a draft Supreme Court judgment that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the problem of online platforms collecting data from people seeking abortion services has taken on new urgency. Privacy groups have expressed concern that the data could be used to prosecute people who seek abortions in countries where they are illegal. Lawmakers have also expressed worry about the problem, urging Apple, Google, and other platforms to prohibit the use of applications that collect data on people seeking abortion services.

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