In what seems to be Facebook’s constant goal of being the most overtly creepy corporation to have ever existed, they quietly launched their Preventative Health tool this week.
“Preventative Health is a new tool on Facebook that connects people to health resources and checkup recommendations from leading health organizations” reads the new dedicated page.
Biotech blogger Emily Mullin tweeted yesterday warning potential users of this new Facebook service against its privacy ramifications: “Important to note that health info you share on social media platforms is not covered by HIPAA, which means Facebook is not obligated by law to protect it.”
Obviously, regular checkups and pre-emptive health are extremely important, but while Facebook’s interest in “helping” people might seem noble, it’s difficult to believe they don’t have self-serving reasons for dipping their toes into the healthcare market.
Healthcare data could theoretically allow companies to show you ads recommending drugs or supplements based on your “health needs” – or worse yet, sharing that information with insurance companies so they can deny you coverage for conditions you’re likely to develop, or charge you extra accordingly. However, there’s no reason to suggest at the moment that Facebook is doing anything like this.
Now of course Facebook’s clean, innocent-looking page on the subject has a section titled “Privacy Matters.” It claims they don’t show ads based on this information and don’t share it with “third parties”.
That being said, it’s Facebook.
Of particular interest is the following, nefariously misleading statement: “Preventive Health allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it doesn’t provide us, or the health organizations we’re working with, access to your actual test results.” What does this mean? Metadata. They might not know the results, but they know what you did, when and where and piecing it together with everything else they know about you, they could take a very educated guess at those results.
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