BetterHelp

Advertencia: *privacidad no incluida con este producto

BetterHelp

BetterHelp
Wifi

Fecha de la reseña: 20 de Abril de 2022

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La gente votó: Sumamente siniestro

"You deserve to be happy." Yes, you do deserve to be happy! BetterHelp thinks they can help you with that if you use their online service to connect with a therapist. Download the app, complete the intake questionnaire, pay up, and boom, BetterHelp says they will match you with a therapist right for you. Then they say you get unlimited messaging with your therapist through chat, phone, or video. Unlimited! All this sounds good, just know that BetterHelp has a bit of a spotty record with things like actually providing the services they promised. And they got in some hot water when they used social media and YouTube influencers to promote their product in ways people found icky. Top that off with a questionable brand partnership they formed following the tragedy at the Travis Scott concert in 2021 where people died and BetterHelp may or may not leave you feeling happy. Oh, and their privacy and security practices seem rather questionable too.

¿Qué podría pasar si algo falla?

BetterHelp could do better at protecting your privacy. Where to start? First, we here at *Privacy Not Included read privacy policies for a living. We've seen many and have a sense for what makes a good privacy policy and what worries us in privacy policies. We found BetterHelp's privacy policy short and missing information we wanted to see made clear. BetterHelp doesn’t specifically state in their privacy policy that they don’t sell user data, which is something we like to see stated clearly. Also, their short privacy policy doesn't mention important information like if and how they collect location data, how long they retain users' data, and how users can access or delete this data. This is another big flag for us. BetterHelp also uses the word "may" a whole lot in their short privacy policy, which as someone who reads privacy policies can tell you, usually means they want to give themselves a lot of wiggle room in how they use your personal information. So many red flags so far.

But wait, there's more! BetterHelp does collect a whole lot of personal information, from the responses to their intake questionnaire (like are you feeling depressed or anxious or are you struggling to maintain relationships), to things like name, age, email address, and phone number. They also say they can use data they collect on you for personalization, product offerings relevant to your individual interests, and targeted ads. And they say they can share some data with a number of third parties including advertisers (boo!), and with any subsidiaries or parent companies within their corporate group (which includes Pride Counseling, Teen Counseling, and Faith Counseling). Remember, every time your data is shared, the potential for data leaks or breaches grows.

And according to this 2020 article by Jezebel, BetterHelp shares metadata from every message, though not its contents, with Facebook. This means that Facebook could know what time of day a user was going to therapy, their approximate location, and how long they were chatting on the app. Yup, red flag.

Is there more that worries us? Why, yes, there is. BetterHelp says they collect, use, and store communications between users and counselors on their platform. They do say they encrypt messages between you and your therapist on the platform, which is good. We were unable to confirm if BetterHelp has a system in place to manage security vulnerabilities on their app, which raises a flag for us about their overall security practices. We emailed their listed privacy contact to ask some questions about BetterHelp's privacy practices and received no response to our questions, so we're not sure if users can expect a timely response from that listed contact.

BetterHelp is a popular mental health platform right now in 2022. They are pouring millions of dollars into advertising to grow their user base. They have a number of concerning privacy and security practices that we and others havereported like sending data to Facebook and sharing data widely with third parties. What's the worst that could happen? Unfortunately, we're afraid a lot could go wrong based on what we learned in our research. That's why we've currently labeled this product *Privacy Not Included.

Consejos para protegerte

  • Do NOT connect the app to your Facebook, Google, or other social media accounts or third-party tools, and do not share medical data when connected to those account.
  • Click the "Shred" button next to each message you've sent if you want it to no longer show in your account.
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¿Me puede espiar? Información

Cámara

Dispositivo: No aplica

Aplicación:

Micrófono

Dispositivo: No aplica

Aplicación:

Rastrea la ubicación

Dispositivo: No aplica

Aplicación: N.° de

¿Qué se puede usar para registrarse?

¿Qué datos recopila la empresa?

¿Cómo utiliza la empresa estos datos?

Better Help does not clearly state they don't sell user data, which is something we like to see.

BetterHelp collects, uses, and stores communications between users and counselors on the Platform, and communications between users and BetterHelp’s customer service team.

BetterHelp may use the information they collect for one or more of the following purposes:
To personalize the website experience and to deliver content and product and service offerings relevant to individual interests, including targeted offers and ads through our websites, and via email.
Any other purpose with your consent.

Purposes for Which Information is Disclosed to Third Parties
With affiliates within our corporate group: We may share your information with any subsidiaries or parent companies within our corporate group.

For advertising: Due to the use of cookies and web beacons, information regarding your activity on our websites, excluding activity when you are logged in and have started therapy, may be disclosed to our advertising partners to optimize marketing. We do not share with any advertising platform private information like member names, email addresses, phone numbers, diagnosis, sessions data, journal entries, messages, worksheets, or any other type of communication you have with your therapist

BetterHelp may share your information with third parties with your consent. Betterhelp does not share with any advertising platform private information like member names, email addresses, phone numbers, diagnosis, sessions data, journal entries, messages, worksheets, or any other type of communication you have with your therapist.

Due to the use of cookies and web beacons, information regarding your activity on their websites, excluding activity when you are logged in and have started therapy, may be disclosed to advertising partners to optimize marketing.

Betterhelp use several publicly-available tools and information exchange resources, such as a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and others. Any information you provide or share while using these tools may be read, accessed, collected by that site and users of that site according to their Privacy Policy.

¿Cómo puedes controlar el uso de tus datos?

No data retention details are mentioned. Data deletion policies and other rights of users are mentioned only for European Economic Area residents.

¿Qué historial tiene la compañía en cuanto a la protección de los datos de los usuarios?

Promedio

In 2021, the Economist shared the report of one user that "When I first joined BetterHelp, I started to see targeted ads with words that I had used on the app to describe my personal experiences.”

In October 2018, BetterHelp gained attention from media personalities after concerns were raised about alleged use of unfair pricing, bad experiences with the app, paid reviews from actors, and terms of service that allegedly did not correspond with ads promoted by professional YouTubers.

Información sobre privacidad infantil

Children and preteens (under 13) will not be able to sign up for BetterHelp and may be best served by in-person therapy or counseling.

¿El producto se puede usar sin conexión?

N.° de

¿La información de privacidad es fácil de entender?

N.° de

Enlaces a información de privacidad

¿El producto cumple nuestros estándares mínimos de seguridad? Información

Desconocido

Cifrado

All the messages between you and your therapist are encrypted by 256-bit encryption.

Contraseña fuerte

Actualizaciones de seguridad

Gestiona las vulnerabilidades

No se puede determinar

Política de privacidad

¿El producto usa AI? Información

No se puede determinar

¿Es poco confiable esta IA?

No se puede determinar

¿Qué tipo de decisiones toma la IA acerca de ti o por ti?

¿La empresa es transparente acerca del funcionamiento de la IA?

No se puede determinar

¿Tiene el usuario control sobre las características de la IA?

No se puede determinar


Noticias

Do Therapy Apps Really Protect Your Privacy?
Life Hacker
It’s no surprise that after a year of unprecedented (remember that word?) isolation, there was a significant surge in users seeking out remote therapy and mental health apps. In terms of increasing mental health awareness and decreasing mental health stigma, more people seeking out help is a positive thing. However, as with anything you download onto your phone, therapy apps come with data and privacy concerns—perhaps even more concerns than other apps, considering the sensitive nature of what you disclose to virtual therapists.
‘We don’t think this is a healthy therapeutic relationship’: Therapist exposes BetterHelp’s problems in viral TikTok
Daily Dot
Jeff Guenther, the therapist behind the TikTok account @therapyden, posted a viral video breaking down why he thinks online therapy service provider BetterHelp shortchanges its professional therapists and clients.
Peace of Mind...Evaluating the Privacy Practices of Mental Health Apps
Consumer Reports
Mental health apps show many of the same patterns we see elsewhere in data-collecting apps. However, the sensitivity of the data they collect means the privacy practices and policies are even more important—especially during a pandemic where people are relying on these services in greater numbers for the first time. Our evaluation shows how there are multiple ways to evaluate how thoughtfully mental health apps handle user data collection, management, and sharing to third parties.
The Digital Standard Case Study: Mental Health Apps
The Digital Standard
Recent events like the global coronavirus pandemic, the resulting economic crisis, and large scale protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement, have spotlighted rising mental health related harms with marginalized and vulnerable populations. Increased anxiety and upheaval causes both physical and psychological symptoms and can be very distressing. Mental health applications collect sensitive information that can create damaging, irreversible impacts on individuals if shared with third parties, including social stigmatization and additional barriers to future opportunities.
Mental health app privacy language opens up holes for user data
The Verge
Even if you do a close, careful read of a privacy policy before signing up for a digital mental health program, and even if you feel really comfortable with that policy — sike, the company can go back and change that policy whenever they want. They might tell you — they might not.
Mental Health Apps Aren't All As Private As You May Think
Consumer Reports
Type “mental health” or a condition such as anxiety or depression into an app store search bar, and you can end up scrolling through endless screens of options. As a recent Consumer Reports investigation has found, these apps take widely varied approaches to helping people handle psychological challenges—and they are just as varied in how they handle the privacy of their users.
How the BetterHelp scandal changed our perspective on influencer responsibility
Maastricht University
Betterhelp is an app which describes itself as "making professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient." The service gained popularity following its partnership with YouTubers such as Philip DeFranco and Shane Dawson. However, brand deals in the mental health sphere are prone to heated backlash, and the app quickly found itself in a controversy. Indeed, users of the app filed complaints alleging discrepancies between BetterHelp's claims and practices. These widely spread complaints reached the online world and led content creators to cease their partnerships with the app.
The Spooky, Loosely Regulated World of Online Therapy
Jezebel
Starting treatment with Better Help, one of the most prominent “therapy-on-demand” apps to launch over the last few years, is easy, which is more or less the point. Like many of the businesses offering therapy online, the service promotes itself as a seamless way to access mental health services: “Message your therapist anytime, from anywhere.” In order to understand how Better Help handles its users’ data, we signed up for the service and monitored what kinds of information it was collecting and sending elsewhere.
YouTube Stars Are Being Accused of Profiting Off Fans’ Depression
The Atlantic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24; some studies estimate that up to 20 percent of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. For a starting fee of $35 a week, BetterHelp will match you with an online counselor who you can then speak to via text, phone, or video, theoretically making it easy for tech-savvy and time-strapped teens to get mental-health care. But some people who downloaded the app after being prompted to by their favorite YouTubers have claimed that it has far from helped them.
How Effective Has BetterHelp’s Advertising Been?
Medium
BetterHelp will continue to spend a significant amount of money on podcast and influencer advertising. The company will help a lot of people and link people in need with qualified therapists. For some, BetterHelp might not be a good fit.
Here's What's Happening With Travis Scott's Free Month Of BetterHelp Therapy — And Why It's Controversial
BuzzFeed
Following the Astroworld tragedy, Travis Scott and mental health app BetterHelp have announced one month of free therapy for those affected — and it's garnered criticism.
Dramatic growth in mental-health apps has created a risky industry
The Economist
Customers’ “emotional data” can be hacked, and no one is checking if the apps work.

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