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Seven Things To Know When You Receive A Notice Of Investigation From The Department Of Health

Facebook’s $725 Million Data-Privacy Settlement’s Impact on Healthcare

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

Facebook agreed to the largest ever data-privacy settlement in December 2022. The $725 million settlement comes after nearly five years of litigation and contentious negotiations.

The class action lawsuit revolves around allegations that Facebook has been sharing user data with third parties without the user’s consent or knowledge. The case stems from the 2016 investigation into the Facebook election scandal. In the scandal, Facebook was accused of selling user data to a political consulting firm that used the data to successfully campaign on Facebook’s platform. Facebook has not accepted any liability or admitted to any wrongdoing in the class action settlement.

Facebook has also been accused of harvesting personal medical data from non-Facebook sites. In June 2022, Facebook allegedly employed a tracking technology called the Meta Pixel to hospitals and medical providers.

This pixel is an embedded code that sends a packet of information to Facebook whenever a patient schedules an appointment online. This packet includes IP addresses, names, reasons for visits, prescribed medication and dosage, allergic reactions, details about upcoming appointments, and even patient answers to questions on intake forms, such as sexual orientation.

The class action alleges that the Meta Pixel gathers information without first obtaining user consent, which could be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA and its implementing federal regulations prohibit healthcare providers from sharing patient information with third parties unless the patient explicitly consents in advance.

An experiment was conducted testing websites of America’s top 100 hospitals and found that 33 of these hospitals had The Meta Pixel installed as of June 15, 2022. This pixel was even found in some password-protected patient portals, allowing access to more intimate patient healthcare information. The hospitals that were found with the tracking technology encoded in its website have since started removing them.  Click here to read more about the experiment.

This data-privacy breach is a massive concern in our increasingly technology-reliant world, especially in healthcare. Using such tracking technology can damage patients’ trust in their healthcare providers due to the move toward a more digitized healthcare system. The Facebook settlement for the class consisting of all Facebook users from May 2007 – December 2022 is a step toward solidifying online privacy rights and that a privacy invasion is injury enough to be redressed in federal court.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, home health agencies, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, and fellows, as well as medical school professors and clinical staff. We represent health facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions. The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in complex litigation and both formal and informal administrative hearings. We also represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, patient complaints, and in Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call our office at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at


Atkins, Dorothy. “Facebook Users’ Attys Seek $95M in $725M Meta Privacy Deal.” Law360. (22 June 2023).

Feathers, Todd, Simon Fondrie-Teitler, Angie Waller, and Surya Mattu. “Facebook is Receiving Sensitive Medical Information from Hospital Websites.” The Markup. (20 May 2023).

McGee, Marianne Kolbasuk. “Lawsuit: Facebook is Collecting Patient Data of ‘Millions’.” Gov Info Security. (21 June 2022). Million Facebook User Data Privacy Class Action Settlement.” Open Class Actions. (25 August 2023).

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

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