Flo’s anonymous mode has arrived. The period tracker promised to launch the new mode shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, in an effort to assuage privacy-related fears. Activists and privacy advocates cast a spotlight on period tracking apps on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision, warning users that the data they collect could be used for investigations into people seeking abortion services. They urged users to delete those apps, especially if they live in states where abortion is now outlawed.
The new anonymous mode allows people to use Flo without having to type in a name, an email address or any other kind of identifier. Flo teamed up with Cloudflare, the same company that Apple worked with for the iCloud Private Relay, to ensure that it can give users “as much privacy as possible.” The company clarified it doesn’t sell identifiable health data but that it wanted to make the mode available “to reassure users who are living in states affected by an abortion ban.”
An anonymous mode is certainly welcome, especially for those who remember Flo’s spotty history when it comes to privacy. Back in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported it was sharing sensitive user data, including information on whether someone was trying to get pregnant, with Facebook, Google and other third-party apps.
Since any information fed to the app while anonymous won’t be linked to an identifier, it will be gone completely if the device gets lost. It also can’t be transferred to a new device and only essential data, such as cycles and symptoms, can get copied into a new account. Users can designate an access code for an extra layer of protection, as well, though they’ll totally lose access to their information if they forget it. In other words, it can be pretty easy to lose access to data while in anonymous mode, which is why users have to actively choose to switch it on.
The period tracker’s anonymous mode is now available for iOS users and will make its way to Android devices in October.