Flo’s anonymous mode has arrived. The period tracker promised to release the new mode shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in an attempt to allay privacy fears. Activists and privacy advocates are highlighting period-tracking apps in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, warning users that the data they collect could be used for investigations into people seeking abortion services. They urged users to remove those apps, especially if they live in states where abortion is now banned.
The new anonymous mode allows people to use Flo without having to enter a name, email address, or any other type of identifier. Flo partnered with Cloudflare, the same company that Apple worked with for iCloud Private Relay, to ensure that it can give users “as much privacy as possible.” The company clarified that it does not sell identifiable health data, but that it wanted the mode to be available “to reassure users who live in states affected by abortion bans.”
An anonymous mode is certainly welcome, especially for those who remember Flo’s spotty track record when it comes to privacy. back in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that it was sharing sensitive user data, including information about whether someone was trying to get pregnant, with Facebook, Google, and other third-party apps.
Since any information supplied to the app while anonymous will not be linked to an identifier, it will disappear entirely if the device is lost. It also cannot be transferred to a new device and only essential data such as cycles and symptoms can be copied to a new account. Users can also designate a passcode for an extra layer of protection, though they will lose access to their information entirely if they forget it. In other words, it can be quite easy to lose access to data while in anonymous mode, which is why users should actively choose to turn it on.
The period tracker’s anonymous mode is now available for iOS users and will be coming to Android devices in October.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at time of publication.