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BetterHelp Barred by FTC From Sharing Data With Facebook

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has barred online therapy provider BetterHelp from sharing users' health information with Facebook and other social media companies.

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Teladoc Health Inc.'s online mental health unit will be banned from sharing health information with Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and other social media companies under a proposed settlement with US trade regulators.

BetterHelp, Teladoc's online therapy business, will be barred from sharing data, including about mental health, for advertising purposes, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday in a statement, alleging that the company violated privacy pledges for years. The company will also pay $7.8 million to resolve allegations that it revealed sensitive data to companies including Facebook and Snap Inc.'s Snapchat.

Online therapy companies that boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic have come under increasing scrutiny from regulators over marketing and prescribing practices. BetterHelp shared data from health questionnaires, along with email addresses and IP addresses, with internet companies for advertising, the FTC said.

BetterHelp said its use of "limited, encrypted information" for targeting ads was an "industry-standard practice" for health-care companies. The company admitted no wrongdoing and it doesn't share "names or clinical data from therapy sessions" with advertisers, according to a statement.

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