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Period-Tracking Apps Are Monetizing Women’s Extremely Personal Data (bloomberg.com)
89 points by montalbano 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments



I imagine this is a big deal because women are vulnerable in a way and to a degree that men aren't when it comes to anything of a sexual nature or having to do with reproduction.

Among other things: Society is generally okay with men having sex outside of marriage. It is much less okay with women doing the same. Men are generally not subjected to criticism for being working fathers. Quite the contrary: they are criticized if they are unemployed and have children. Women are routinely expected to choose between career and family.

I have in the past commented on the fact that insurance typically did not cover female birth control, but often did cover Viagra. The subtext there: Fertile young women aren't entitled to sex, but men are, even if they are so old they need help performing. Such observations were typically met with open hostility and dismissal, not like the observation held any water.

The ACA changed that some. From what I gather, most policies are required to cover some sort of female birth control, unless it falls under religious exception iirc. So this is mostly no longer true, but was at one time.

My understanding is the current administration is trying to repeal this and stop covering female birth control, so such gains cannot be assumed to be permanent. It's all too easy to reverse them and reinstate historical "barefoot and pregnant" style gender norms for women.

Edit: For context, I'm American and 53 years old. So I'm talking about (historical, before the ACA) American insurance practices here.


> I have in the past commented on the fact that insurance typically did not cover female birth control, but often did cover Viagra.

Not trying to disagree with you but I think this isn't a fair comparison.

Erectile dysfunction is a medical issue in the sense that you're actually broken. Birth control is different in that you can (mostly) live your life without birth control.

I say mostly because there are women that need to be on birth control for actual medical reasons in that they have complications with PMS and this mitigates things.

A more fair comparison would be male vs female sterilization or condoms.

If condoms were free for men but not for women then that would be a great point.

Again. Not saying I disagree with you just that this isn't an apples to oranges comparison.


I agree about the apples to oranges comparison. ED is, as you say, a medical condition. The "dysfunction" in the name indicates that things aren't working properly. In contrast, no one has ever been diagnosed with being fertile, because being fertile is not a dysfunction.

I do want to suggest, however, that a change of language is warranted around this issue.

You write: "there are women that need to be on birth control for actual medical reasons in that they have complications with PMS and this mitigates things."

These women do not need to be on birth control. They need to receive hormone therapy, which happens to be, in a lot of cases, the same medication used for birth control.

I know it sounds like a distinction without a difference, but it's actually quite a meaningful distinction.

I would not say that a newborn girl with chronic pulmonary hypertension needs to be on erectile dysfunction medication. Rather, I would say that she can be treated with sildenafil, which happens to also be the active ingredient in Viagra.

Similarly, a woman might use hormone therapy to avoid menorrhagia, and a side effect might be that it decreases her ability to become pregnant, and she may or may not be happy with that side effect.

When you make this language shift -- "birth control" applies to contraception, which disrupts the body's natural fertility, and "hormone therapy" applies to treatment of medical conditions and dysfunctions -- it helps resolve some hot-button issues.

For instance, if a woman works for a religious employer that does not cover contraception, I would imagine that employer would have no issue with her receiving appropriate hormone therapy for a medical condition such as menorrhagia, even if a decrease in fertility is a known side effect.


Women generally make less money than men. Raising a child alone when you can barely support yourself is a serious hardship. These stats are out of date and for illustration purposes only:

If a woman makes 2/3 what a man makes, he makes 1 1/2 times what she makes. If it takes 90% of what she earns to just scrape by and only 10% of her income is discretionary funds, he has many times as much discretionary money as her. If she has a child out of wedlock and has to raise it alone, childcare will be far more than her current "fun money." So having a child out of wedlock can ruin a woman's life, even before we get into potential medical complications, what if the child has special needs? etc.

If you have a one night stand with a stranger and a pregnancy results, he may never know he fathered a child. She may find herself pregnant out of wedlock with no means to contact the father, thus no hope of even asking for child support.

Women generally worry quite a lot about unintended pregnancy because it can so completely derail their lives in an unrecoverable fashion. (IIRC) Getting pregnant unexpectedly is one of the three biggest risk factors for plunging a woman into poverty, even if she's always been middle class, is well educated, etc. The other two are divorce and widowhood.


The best choice to make when you don't have birth control and don't want to have a child is to not have sex, since even having sex using condoms and similar protection are not completely effective. Are you saying that birth control should be covered because women are incapable of making objectively good decisions when they don't have birth control?


That's definitely not the experience I have. Viagra, even generic, is over $1000 a month due to not being covered by an topped out health plan that even covers things like IVF. Doctor also said it's usually not covered for any of his patients. Meanwhile my wife's birth control is free from planned parenthood.


>Society is generally okay with men having sex outside of marriage.

"Okay" is a curious word to choose. There is a good reason why almost every culture on Earth has shamed female promiscuity: women get pregnant and men do not, making premarital sex far more risky for women than for men. Culture hasn't caught up with the invention of the birth control pill, but that does not mean that it's all part of a patriarchal scheme (as people imply).

Men are also shamed to a lesser degree depending on the culture for rampant premarital sex but also get respect for it too, which makes sense. A male's sexual success is very closely tied to his status, wealth, and position in a social hierarchy (this is observed across diverse cultures). You can take it as an indicator of a male's success in his society.

>Did not cover female birth control

Erectile dysfunction is a medical dysfunction. Not wanting to have children is not a medical dysfunction. It's more complicated than the stories people are told.


Not wanting to have kids is, in fact, a medical issue for many women. Pregnancy is dangerous for many women, especially those with pre-existing conditions.


It is not a medical dysfunction. "Not wanting to have children" is not a medical disorder, it's a preference. It's not necessary to use birth control if you don't want to have kids. You could instead just not have sex.


> Society is generally okay with men having sex outside of marriage.

Never in my life has this been acceptable to anyone I know.


I think she is complaining about sex before marriage having a double standard, not cheating during marriage. Women are sometimes expected to "save themselves" by the religious, I think, although I've never met a fellow millennial who believed in that rot.


Millennial man here who saved himself for marriage. First thing I said to my now wife on our first date: I am not having sex with you tonight. She said 'great', which is why I bothered continuing with the evening

Maybe if you met more people like me, you would not be so incredulous. The catholic church has several groups and iniatives dedicated to young mens chastity


In our provincial puddle of spectacular society, it's (almost) never acceptable. But of course we live under the spectre of being mammals with a harem-type arrangement, of chief/king figures and noble figures having many partners for recorded human history, and of the awe males are given for having massive amounts of sex partners.

In private society, we encourage our own particular vices and virtues as long as they don't lead to a critical point of instability and dissolution.


> I have in the past commented on the fact that insurance typically did not cover female birth control, but often did cover Viagra.

Total opposite in Canada across public and private plans.

Never saw a private or public plan refuse to cover BC. Many would pay several hundred for an IUD as well. Rarely saw a plan cover ED drugs outside of self-insured or executive plans.


Any vaguely rational insurance plan which covers maternity will cover birth control, since it’s so much cheaper. But there were a lot of plans that didn’t cover maternity, and some people have irrational objections to covering birth control.


Back when Microsoft's insurance covered everything ("co-pay? What's a 'co-pay'?"), they didn't cover birth control. That changed later (early 2000s?). But even what was once the gold standard of company health insurance plans didn't cover it at one time (they didn't cover ED drugs, either).


It's not cheaper to sponsor population decline


In a way it's ironic, too, in terms of the insurer saving money. A pregnancy and birth is far more expensive any birth control method I can think of... other than perhaps abortion - which (get this, religious fundamentalists) inexpensive birth control helps prevent.


The cost of birth control is not expensive. Multiple different formulations of the pill are available for $10/month without insurance. Condoms are less than a buck each. Someone talking about birth control being expensive is either ignorant or intentionally misleading.


Right. What I'm saying is that from the insurer's POV, it's far more cost effective to cover birth control than not to.


NuvaRing? Implant? IUD? Patch? Pills? Which birth control methods are not being covered? How old is this birth control coverage data? Viagra is a heart medication first and boner pill second, Were the data sources clear on why someone got viagra approved in any given case? I'm willing to buy it but not at face value.

I only doubt the birth control assertion for the most American of all reasons; Corporate Profits. Insurers would(do?) save BILLIONS in coverage for pregnant women by giving out the pill. It's against their own self interest.


> Viagra is a heart medication first and boner pill second

No, sildenafil was discovered _while_ trying to find a cardiac medicine.

The primary indication for Viagra is sexual dysfunction, per the manufacturer. So much so that they market the pulmonary anti-hypertensive focused variant as Revatio.

And even in that, it's not shown to be amazingly effective:

"Sildenafil therapy lasting 12 weeks improves multiple clinical and hemodynamic outcomes in patients with PAH, but it appears to have no effect on mortality or serious adverse events." -- "Respiratory Medicine" journal


[flagged]


> Considering that the pill dries up vaginal secretions and lowers libido, another possible take on the refusal to not cover contraception (assuming that it was not cobeted) is that our culture believes women are entitled to good sex.

That doesn't follow. I mean, many prescription drugs have death as a known potential side effect, and it's generally accepted that people have a right to life, but that doesn't mean that the drugs aren't covered. Being entitled something doesn't justify third party insurers denying you coverage for something which might interfere with that entitlement when you have voluntarily accepted that risk to acheive some other end.

> Last time I checked its not like sex where one could get pregnant was no longer fun

Your idea of fun is, I suspect, not universal.


> That doesn't follow

Your take on the situation also wasnt a direct logical entailment. We both gave our interpretation of the unwillingness to covwr birth control. I gave mine as a counterinterpretation to yours to avoid ideological hegemony.

> Your idea of fun is, I suspect, not universal

But it is substantially more fun!


> Your take on the situation also wasnt a direct logical entailment. We both gave our interpretation of the unwillingness to covwr birth control.

No, I think you have fallen into the “anyone who responds to me other than in agreement must be the same person I responded to” error.


Oh youre absolutely right. Oops!


But it is substantially more fun!

Your other remarks here suggest you are Catholic and saved yourself for marriage. If you have only ever had one sex partner and have only ever had sex without birth control, then you seem rather unqualified to make a comparative statement of this sort.


Indeed, my personal experience is irrelevant. Thankfully, most anecdata makes for a very uncompelling argument.

Luckily, we have large scale surveys to cover the gap: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/paeekv/why-conservati...


The piece linked really isn't particularly pertinent to whether sex without birth control versus sex with birth control is more fun.

Since a lot of women don't even want to have sex without birth control, it could be argued that you will have more fun if you use or allow for birth control. As far as I know, the term "conservative" does not mean "people who universally refuse to use birth control." Correct me if I'm wrong.

If you want to argue that sex without birth control is more fun than sex with birth control, you will need to find a study pertinent to that claim, not pertinent to the claim that socially conservative people have more fun in private.

I'm happy to concede that socially conservative people who are picky about who they sleep with and other details that serve as protection against serious regret following sex probably enjoy sex more. But that was not the claim.


Even if this data isn't collected on behalf of a healthcare provider I don't understand why the collected information wouldn't be considered PHI and therefore subject to HIPAA's rules.


Because HIPAA is a regulation for specific industries. This includes healthcare providers and insurance. It doesn't include every service that tracks anything that could be construed as health data.

In practice, if you are a service working with covered industries, they will insist you be HIPAA compliant so they can't be fined. Individuals tracking their own information don't fall under HIPAA regulation.


It is PHI but its not subject to HIPAA because it is collected by users, not by a hospital (for example).

US law governing PHI applies to data collected in the course of providing and paying for health care. Privacy and security regulations govern how healthcare professionals, hospitals, health insurers, and other Covered Entities use and protect the data they collect. It is important to understand that the source of the data is as relevant as the data itself when determining if information is PHI under U.S. law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_health_information

This is the same reason why HIPAA does not apply to personal fitness trackers.

When consumers are collecting health data for their own use, HIPAA doesn’t come into play.

https://healthitsecurity.com/news/how-does-hipaa-apply-to-we...


Period tracking, especially as it relates to fertility, mood, etc. - sounds like health care to me.

Instead of an app company using an app, suppose it were a doctor and a notepad? Would that really be so far outside the doctor's wheelhouse as to no longer be "health care."

They're collecting the data in the course of providing a health care service. Which also raises the question of medical licenses.


It's because the HIPAA law specifically defines the kinds of entities that are subject to the law, and tracking of user-input health data falls outside that definition.


This seems like a loophole in the design of the law. I don't see why a health-tracking app (or more generally, any service that I entrust with my data) shouldn't be a Covered Entity.


It's not a loophole, it's central to the role of the privacy provision in the law. It's important to remember with HIPAA that it wasn't a privacy law, the privacy and security provisions were included to mitigate concerns with the administrative simplification mandates and the automation incentives, and so they cover the exact same entities targeted by those provisions, and those entities are the ones (other than the patient) involved as principals or intermediaries in the patient/provider/insurer care and payment relationship.


By that reasoning, if you use Excel for health tracking then Microsoft would be subject to HIPAA.


If Microsoft is collecting and storing the contents of the Excel workbook, then why not?


One of HIPAA's weaknesses is that the data protection requirements only apply to certain kinds of entities - basically just health care providers.

That means that data may not be covered, depending on who collects it. Worse, data that was protected can legally fall out of protection if it's shared with entities that aren't bound by HIPAA.

(Which, intentionally or otherwise, is something that health care providers often request the right to do as part of those HIPAA consent forms that we all sign without reading.)


> basically just health care providers.

From my understanding, it only applies to companies accepting health insurance and Medicare/Medicaid.

If it's private pay/out of pocket only, HIPAA doesn't apply.


> Even if this data isn't collected on behalf of a healthcare provider I don't understand why the collected information wouldn't be considered PHI and therefore subject to HIPAA's rules.

Because, under HIPAA, PHI is a subset of individually identifiable health information, and individually identifiable health information is a subset of health information, and health information excludes anything that is not, “created or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, employer, life insurer, school or university, or health care clearinghouse” (and if it's employment records held by an employer in their role as an employer, it's excluded from PHI even if it is individually identifiable health information.)


It's not PHI because PHI is a term expressly defined to be "individually identifiable health information" held by a "Covered Entit(y)". See the gory details at https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/45/160.103


HIPPA doesn't prevent your health data from being used for marketing purposes.

For example, a baby formula company can identity with reasonable certainty when you're going to deliver a baby based on insurance claim and prescription data.


It needs to be personally identifiable. If the app isn’t tracking who’s data it’s collecting, then it’s not PHI.


Surely they are associating this with either an email address or a device fingerprint, both of which would be considered personally identifying by HIPAA.


It sounds like the extent of the monetization of this data (for now) is targeted in-app advertisements.

And the ads sound like they're targeted on relatively tame demographic data, like a person's age, as opposed to the more private data the app collects (e.g. how often a woman has sex or where a woman is in her cycle).

And even if that sensitive data were used for targeting, I would imagine it would be for things like, "Show ads for lubricants if a person is sexually active" or "Show ads for tampons during the week prior to menstruation." Which doesn't really strike me as that privacy-invading, given the nature of the app.

I think the privacy implications get worse if the data is sold to third parties, or if it is used to make decisions that aren't tied to the data being tracked. For instance, imagine if insurance companies determined that there is a difference in risk between people who have sex frequently vs. infrequently and wanted to use this data to inform their underwriting decisions. That's where it gets scary.


Did you read the article?

> Ovia is pitching a paid version of its app to insurers and large employers who want a heads-up on how many of their members or employees want to conceive.

This is a WTF of epic proportions. How is this the business of either my insurance company or my employer?

Edit: Also consider that supposedly "harmless" targeted advertising becomes actively traumatizing if something goes wrong around the reproductive process: https://medium.com/the-establishment/when-targeted-marketing...


Imagine a woman conveniently getting laid off just about the time she is trying to conceive. A company could offer paid maternity leave but lay off women right before they get pregnant. Or they could deny them a promotion because she's trying to get pregnant, why promote then when they will leave in six months? Or they apply this to potential candidates, women that don't keep track of their cycles are probably less likely to have kids soon so hire them over women that do keep track. People should be wary about handing over any information that could be used against them.


"doesn't really strike me as that privacy-invading, given the nature of the app"

"the privacy implications get worse if the data is sold to third parties"

Aren't these two statements in direct conflict with one another?


A third party doesn't need to know who you are to advertise to you. If I'm an app user, and I see an ad targeted to people who are toward the end of their cycle, then the only thing the third party knows about me is that I'm toward the end of my cycle. They don't know my name or address or other PII simply by virtue of advertising to me.

But if an app sells this data to a third party and includes PII that allows the third party to make observations such as, "Jane Doe did X on date Y," then that's certainly a privacy concern.


So if one company has that information it's OK, but once two companies have it it's a privacy concern?


The application is specifically meant to track this information, so to me that's cost of doing business. If they sell it to other people without consent, that's an issue.

It would be like if I went into H&R Block to get my taxes done. Should I be worried that they have my SSN and earnings? No, because they need that information to do the task that I'm asking of them. If they sell that to other places yes, that's a huge issue.


>The application is specifically meant to track this information

So a privacy risk is the cost of doing business. Knowing about it upfront and consenting to the data collection doesn't negate that. If H&R block stores all of the data you give them forever, that's a privacy concern because they could be hacked or they could (depending on relevant laws) change their mind and decide to share or sell some of that data in the future.


Ideally if they have that information and it's released (either via hacking or sold without consent) the company could be sued. Unfortunately that's not the case today.

You're arguing that anyone knowing anything is a privacy concern which is over the top in my eyes. You could never use a bank, file taxes, get a paycheck, hell you couldn't even ever get a job with it being a "risk" because your employer has a ton of info on you.


> The application is specifically meant to track this information, so to me that's cost of doing business.

Being male I'm not familiar with the features offered by period trackers, but is there any valid reason the information has to leave your device at all?


It looks like the company itself targets the ads, rather than selling the data to another company to target the ads. This shouldn't actually matter. Why do you care if your private information is in the hands of company A or company B?


Often people find it different when one party has the data, and has a decent track record of not broadcasting it to the world, and when the data is widely circulated.

I know around here we like to assume that all data is going to suffer a security breach someday but--

- In practice, everyone has more than two levels of trust.

- Someday isn't today.


>In practice, everyone has more than two levels of trust.

That is true, but that doesn't mean that two levels of trust is not a privacy concern merely because everyone does it.

>Someday isn't today

I felt appalled after reading this. If you genuinely hold that belief, I hope your circumstances are merciful towards you.


> That is true, but that doesn't mean that two levels of trust is not a privacy concern merely because everyone does it.

I feel appalled after reading this. If you genuinely hold that belief, I hope your circumstances are merciful towards you.


Because if I can say "you may use information I give you in the app to show me ads without disclosing who I am and any of my PHI" then there's a bright line. I only need to worry about company A mishandling the data.

If I allow selling, I need to know about the myriad companies that A may deal with, not just B.

I have no problem sharing information for services. I just want to have controls on that.


Maybe indirect. They may not currently be selling that data.


Planned Parenthood has their own period tracking app called Spot On, which probably doesn't share your data.


The whole big data mining AD madness has to stop. Period.


this comes from the cult of metrics. If you need to know all the numbers about every single thing, about every single action taken every day in order to make decisions, then it naturally results in all the data being collected. And thus having to find ways to use the data because you already spent all your money on collecting and storing this information. And if you sell it, you can make more money!


"Cult of metrics" -- I like it. Perhaps "you can't improve what you can't measure," but it's also true that sometimes "you can't improve what you can measure," or that it's just not worth improving. Sure, you could pitch me a smart toilet paper dispenser (yes, this is a thing) that measures how many times it turns, then sends me coupons for toilet paper when I'm close to running out, but... it's toilet paper. I doubt your margins cover a discount I would care about, much less your server costs.


Sure, but as long as people prefer reading through outline.com to paying for stuff don't expect it to.


It won't, as long as people prefer free services with questionable privacy policies over paying for a service.


Well, I read this to see horror stories about the one I use (Clue) and it turns out that it's not actually sharing any data except with academics. So... great?


> it turns out that it's not actually sharing any data except with academics.

That wouldn't make me feel better. Remember Cambridge Analytica [0]?

[0] https://www.politico.eu/article/cambridge-analytica-academic...


Why does it take an article in Bloomberg to inform you of that? If you are concerned about your information being shared by the company to which you are disclosing it then why not look into the security of your data before handing it over?


I'm not overly concerned about the three data points I give them every month.


The real problem here is that there the asymmetry in machine learning capabilities between big companies and everyday consumers. I think what we all will need in the nearby future is personalized AIs (that we all individually can "build" and "own" in the same way we currently do our personalized computers) which will negotiate the currently web against big companies on our behalf.


Not to sound like an Apple fanboy/shill, but this is one of the reasons I am still willing to throw money at Apple.

As hostile as they are to software freedom in general, they know that personal data privacy is part of the value proposition for the Apple ecosystem. The Siri and Apple Maps privacy policies explicitly state that data will only be used to improve Siri and Maps, respectively. Apple CoreML is a big step in making offline machine learning accessible to app developers. Safari ships with an adblocker.


> “No two cycles are exactly the same, even in the same woman,” warns Anna Glasier, a leading contraception researcher at the University of Edinburgh. An app “does nothing but rely on people not having intercourse at a certain point in the cycle. And we know that doesn’t work very well.”

If the article is about privacy, then it should focus on that. The above comment seems tendentious like it betrays a prejudice against NFP as if to spread FUD about it by associating it with loss of privacy. Use a notebook or an offline app if privacy is an issue (I would).


Just another example of proprietary software betraying its users.


I find it interesting that this should appear on the front page at the same time as the other post about the stigma of menstruation in India. The fact that this data is considered "extremely personal" just goes to show that it's a subject that's also highly stigmatized here in the west. In TFA they even compare it to medical history!

~50% of the adult population menstruates. I don't get what the big deal is.


> ~50% of the adult population menstruates. I don't get what the big deal is.

100% of us poop. Would you care for the world to know about the quantity and quality of your movements? How about urinate? Sneeze? Ejaculate? Just because something is ubiquitous doesn't mean we don't want to keep it private.


More like 30%. Fewer still track their periods, and the details of how they are timed, as well as entry into or exit from the pool of people who do, can be an indicator of much more sensitive information than the simple fact of being a woman who falls in a certain age range.

The fact of the matter is, this data isn't just comparable to medical history; it is medical history.


Well, wanting to predict ovulations probably means the user is trying to conceive. An unscrupulous employer might want to know that, and try to replace that employee.


Maybe you've heard of The Rhythm Method? Some people track it to avoid conception.

Also, some women have health issues involving their reproductive tract, like PCOS, fibroids or even just PMS. Data can help them better understand and manage their symptoms.


If they're using the rhythm method, their employer is still likely to want to fire them because of impending pregnancy - it has a 24% annual failure rate with typical use.

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/p...


My point is that firing them should be illegal because you can't actually know the purpose they intend it for. You also aren't supposed to fire women for trying to get pregnant. You certainly shouldn't fire them for using unreliable birth control. Nothing is infallible, except outright removing her reproductive organs. Even if they are using the rhythm method, you don't actually know that they aren't using it in conjunction with some other form of protection. It's not uncommon to use two less reliable methods together to bolster the efficacy.


"Not supposed to" and "don't" are vastly different things, nor is an employer looking to discriminate illegally necessarily going to care if they fire a few false positives.

You'd just start seeing your performance evaluations come back with "needs improvement". Little mistakes or violations of policies that were previously ignored result in write-ups. Six months later, you're laid off with a couple other folks, with a hole in your income that makes it hard to hire a lawyer on a long-shot legal suit.

People get fired for being pregnant daily. As long as their boss doesn't do something abjectly idiotic like sending an email saying "you're fired because you're trying to get pregnant", there's very little recourse.


Point taken.


Or avoid conceiving!!!!


All of my girlfriends have had period-tracking apps and we had no intention to conceive. I don't know how menstruation works but I assume it's something you have to be ready for, so you better keep your tabs on it.


one of the reasons I built nomie was for my wife to privately track her cycle.


People are a poor source of entropy in general. You could probably infer the same information just from any cyclical device usage. Contact frequency, accelerometer patterns, Tinder/Uber usage. Sounds like the sort of predictive analytics Uber could use to micro surge price women.


The data from actual period trackers would be great for building this. Use it to train a neural network on some nVidia cards and you could dredge up all kinds of patterns in accelerometer data or Hulu viewing history and generate plenty of actionable data on women who are potentially pregnant to sell to advertisers.

Isn’t there anything useful we can do with technology or are we all just bottom feeding parasites and rent seekers trying to build cash machines?


What would be useful?


it amazes me that people continue to be surprised by this.


why is this surprising or wrong? you give the application data, you give them permissions to use your data, and you don't pay for the application (although it seems like there are subscription models rolling out). did the author assume people were just building these things for charity?


Some people do... Open source is a great example.


This is very valuable information the apps have. A woman menstruating versus ovulating are two very different hormonal states, and can at times appear to manifest as different personalities in the same person.

Thus the advertising potential is huge, very actionable data.


Youre absolutely right of course which is why youre being downvoted. My wife and i are catholic and use natural family planning. We started with paper charts.

NFP was mainly studied by the church and all these apps now are built mainly through research from catholic doctors.

In our nfp group, we have many couples. Most of us started charting on paper, and some havs switched to our nonprofits paid app, but nevertheless, speaking with the other husbands there, most of us know exactly when our wives are ovulating based on our perceived changes in their personality.

Through many years of paper charts we noticed my wife wouldnt sleep the night of ovulation and would be cranky the next day. Other guys noticed their own things with their wives

Its not popular to say, but its true. Women who are actually having real cycles (as opposed to those suppressing it with the pill) do often have personality changes. That does not mean women are overly emotional or not rational it just means they are subject to regular hormonal fluctuations. Men are too of course but as far as i know there are no easily observable metrics to track


Not OP, but if you're going to downvote, have the decency to leave a comment explaining why. Downvoting just because you disagree or don't like what someone said doesn't promote understanding

Update: Hah. Downvoting me now? Why not contribute to the discussion instead?

Edit: A little less triggering language


Comments about "the process" are generally unwelcome. It's not uncommon for posts saying "this is how you should post" get down-voted. Direct appeals to up/down-vote a post are against site policy.

I'll conceded that down-voting OP might have been less helpful, but down-voting your comment isn't just standard practice, it's what down-voting was added for.


Respectfully, I disagree. Being unwelcome towards comments about "the process" goes against what the site is about. It is a community forum designed to promote discussion and understanding.

Downvoting comments you disagree with or simply dislike, without any explanation, is harmful to the community and discussion in general.

Also, I made no appeal to up or down vote any comment. My appeal is simply to promote discussion.


You can disagree about what the site should or shouldn't be. Honestly, not my place to really care. I'm just trying to help explain why the mob was throwing tomatoes at you. Do what that what you will, and die on any hill you please.

You also had, your term here, "triggering language" and flame-baiting is typically frowned upon as well. Calling people "white (sic) nights" isn't really promoting civil discussion.

I'm tapping out here, since I have nothing else to say on the topic. I have nothing against you, just some friendly advice from one firebrand to another.


Thanks for your permission to disagree...

I mentioned what the site _is_. Not what it should be. This is a forum to promote discussion and increase awareness. If that is no longer the case, we'll all be better off moving discussion to another forum. As I was left only to guess why my comment was downvoted, I inserted that guess into an _edit_ to my comment. I've since removed it since I came to the same realization that it didn't promote civil discussion.

In honesty, I appreciate your suggestions for how to avoid comments which are "frowned upon". Truly. However, you are presuming that I care if my comments are frowned upon. I don't. My aim is to promote discussion and increase awareness and understanding - even if that means offending a person or two.

Thank you for your feedback, however. It is appreciated.


Site rules explicitly forbid downvote complaining. Stop.


I didn't complain about the downvote. I opted for discussion. As my post has already been "flagged", feel free to opt out


This reminds me of an old Ogilvy quote on advertising, it goes something like this:

"You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine."




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