Met Police website ‘sent details of victims of crimes including sex crimes and domestic abuse to Facebook’
A force spokesman denied that personal information was shared with third parties
Reports of allegations of sex offences, domestic abuse and other offenses using the Metropolitan Police’s website have reportedly been sent to Facebook.
The information, which included the type of crime and the user’s Facebook profile code, was sent to the social media giant through a tracking tool called MetaPixel that was being used on the police force’s website.
The Observer reports that the data was sent despite online forms for victims and witnesses to report crimes apparently to be ‘protected’.
The embedded tracking tool also sent Facebook details about content viewed on Facebook and content clicked on webpages linked to advice pages for crimes including rape, assault, impersonation and fraud, contacting the police, accessing victim services, and more.
The Met Police said it used the Meta Pixel feature for recruitment campaigns and would remove them from all other pages
Dame Vera Baird, the former victims’ commissioner, told the newspaper: ‘You think you’re dealing with a public authority you can trust and in fact you’re dealing with the wild world of Facebook and advertising.’
Observer analysis found that Norfolk and Suffolk police forces shared data about people accessing sensitive webpages.
The Met Police said it used the Meta Pixel feature for recruitment campaigns and would remove them from all other pages.
A force spokesman said: ‘Pixels are implemented on our website homepage and careers webpage to serve relevant recruitment adverts to people who have expressed an interest in a career at the Met.
‘No personal data inputted by an individual reporting crime is at any time shared with third parties.
‘A meta pixel was added to a recruitment marketing campaign on the Met website in June 2023 and we are taking steps to remove the pixels from any non-recruitment specific pages to avoid unnecessary concern.’
He added: ‘The MPS website is part of a single online home that uses industry standard techniques to understand the user journey through our website which enables us to understand where our users find navigation difficult and improve our service to the public.
‘The technology used to do this does not under any circumstances disclose the content of the information entered or the personal details of the person using the service.
‘For the avoidance of doubt an IP (Internet Protocol) address does not identify an individual by name or specific geographic address and IP addresses are generally not static.
‘Captured analytics data is stored with the website operator (police), never enters the public domain and is not able to be used by any commercial organisation, including analytics and advertising service providers.
‘MPS has used additional services to serve more specific advertising data to individuals who may be interested in applying to join the police force, for example.
‘Again this data does not identify any individual by name nor does it share any information provided through any online form with any third party.
‘It’s important that people have confidence in our services so we’re reviewing the use of analytics and advertising features.’
A spokesman for Meta, which runs Facebook, said: ‘We make it clear in our policy that advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our business tools’.
A spokesperson for Meta, which runs Facebook, said: ‘We are clear in our policy that advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our business tools.
‘It is against our policy to do this and we educate advertisers to set up business tools correctly to prevent this from happening. Our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data that it is able to detect.’
Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies have been contacted for comment.
A previous watchdog investigation found that 20 NHS trusts shared patients’ personal data with Facebook through the use of meta pixels with 17 trusts saying they would stop using them.
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