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Facebook Medicine Social Networks

Facebook Ready To Get Into Healthcare 99

New submitter Ted_Margaris_Chicago sends a report from Reuters indicating Facebook will be adding healthcare features to their social network. The company is exploring creating online "support communities" that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new "preventative care" applications that would help people improve their lifestyles. In recent months, the sources said, the social networking giant has been holding meetings with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs, and is setting up a research and development unit to test new health apps. Facebook is still in the idea-gathering stage, the people said. The article notes two reasons in particular that spurred Facebook to this course of action. First, the day that Facebook let people share their organ donor status, the U.S. saw a 21-fold increase in people registering to be organ donors. Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice.
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Facebook Ready To Get Into Healthcare

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  • And everything you hold dear.
    • Re:There goes HIPAA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:39AM (#48055203) Homepage Journal
      I'm thinking my God....are people so fucking stupid to voluntarily put all that information out there, and on Facebook to top it off?!?!

      I can see a LOT of insurance companies flocking to "friend" everyone to get a share of this info, not to mention the other thousands of advertisers, and of course the govt, since it is becoming so entangled into a person's private healthcare history.

      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        You understand that in most of the western world, insurance companies aren't allowed to do anything with that kind of information, right?

        • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:50AM (#48055327) Homepage Journal

          You understand that in most of the western world, insurance companies aren't allowed to do anything with that kind of information, right?

          Hmm..exactly where are you talking about?

          I don't know of any laws in the US that forbids the insurance companies from using information from any source, especially if it is voluntarily dispersed by the individual??

          I have to imagine if you're wanting life insurance, this will be one of the first wells the insurance companies go to mine for info....I would.

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            "western world" != "US".

            • Considering Slashdot is a US centric website, it can usually be assumed that the stories and comments pertain primarily to how things are done in the US.
          • by BringsApples ( 3418089 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @10:24AM (#48055567)

            I have to imagine if you're wanting life insurance, this will be one of the first wells the insurance companies go to mine for info....I would.

            Why the hell this isn't modded up is beyond me. You're absolutely correct in exposing, yet another, reason that displaying every little thing about yourself on a public message board is silly. I guess it's moronic to still beat the "stop using facebook" drum, but if you wouldn't go up to some random person on the street and tell them some bits of info about youself, regardless how in-depth, then don't post it on facebook. It's coming to the point that - just like when you are under arrest, the first thing the policeman will tell you is that you have the right to remain silent, if you refuse that right, everything you say can, and will be used against you in court - we need to think in terms of things that we say, on public boards, will be used against us. Maybe not in court, but surely the more data there is on each individual, the more these big-ass corporations can use that data in their favor. PS your privacy doesn't make anyone money, so it's not in their favor.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In other countries, that is one thing. In the US, any info can be used to cancel your policy, jack your rates, deny claims (good luck going anywhere against their billion dollar lawyer teams), or perhaps be used for a criminal investigation.

          HIPAA is a toothless law, and has never has been enforced, even once. At best, there was a -threat- made to enforce it so that a medical place would at least think about security, but it has yet to be actually used by a prosecutor in a court of law.

          • by camg188 ( 932324 )
            HIPAA sure didn't protect Thomas Eric Duncan. His name and info have been all over the news.
        • by 2fuf ( 993808 )

          hmmm, you know that companies also break rules, right?

        • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

          You mean information that's in the public domain, for all to see?
          You might as well put all your personal information on a billboard then scream from the nearest rooftop for a law prohibiting people from looking up.

          You're in a fucking dreamworld if you think for one second that that's gonna happen.

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            What do you think the insurance companies will do?
            They can't stop my insurance.
            They can't raise prices or policy.
            They can't refuse to pay for medical care.
            They can't deny me insurance.
            Remember.. talking about countries other than the USA here.
            Generally that is how insurance companies work; they take on lots of individual risks, combining it into something more predictable as a group.

      • And yet Apple getting into this market doesn't seem to bother anyone.

      • Why would you think that? HIPPA very much applies to any company that handles medical data and I can assure you that HIPPA violators aren't taken lightly. It's also one of those laws that can pierce the corporate veil (IE your CEO could go to jail/be fined directly for violating HIPPA). Facebook wouldn't be so stupid as to want to get tangled on the bad side of HIPPA.
      • You're forgetting something - people with nasty ailments which can be terminal or directly linked to higher rates of suicide need a strong support group to improve their chances of survival, aside from receiving regular treatments and/or pain control from their physician. In these cases, the insurance companies already know these people are afflicted - but it's simply possible that a local support group does not exist, and smaller online communities can be easily fragmented or shutdown on a whim by the owne
      • "Your medical history has been shared 153,473 times."

        "Your cancer has 15,429 new messages."

        who needs THAT crap?

      • Re: "...are people so fucking stupid to voluntarily put all that information out there, and on Facebook to top it off?!?!" -- Sadly, yes. And why do you think Facebook have being trying so hard to make sure that users are identifiable as real people with phone numbers, credit cards, workplaces, and home addresses?

        And hey, it'll be rich pickings for any scammers to find new victims. "Hey, are you dying of cancer? I have this miracle cure that absolutely, most definitely works, and only costs... erm... let m

      • I see it more as a way to spread misinformation and bogus health advice
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      This has nothing to do with HIPAA; you can reveal your own medical records to anyone.
    • That's ship has sailed a long time ago.

    • by Morpeth ( 577066 )

      HIPAA applies to doctors, insurance companies etc in their handling of your medical information -- people can volunteer their own personal medical information, nothing to do with HIPAA. Now, why anyone would trust anything like that to FB.... I had no idea.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:35AM (#48055175)

    First, the day that Facebook let people share their organ donor status, the U.S. saw a 21-fold increase in people registering to be organ donors."

    Now they only need a motorcycle.

    " Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice. "

    Must be "stultia gravis" cases

  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:37AM (#48055193)

    Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice.

    Because when you're looking for highly accurate, trustworthy information, you think of Facebook!

    • Exactly. Oh wait. I don't have a facebook account... Ima gonna die!
    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:51AM (#48055345)
      Kind of like getting political advice on /.
      • It is better then getting political advice on Facebook.
        Lets take a complicated issue and simplify it to a square Photoshop JPEG with a witty remark on it.

    • Because when you're looking for highly accurate, trustworthy information, you think of Facebook!

      That's really the only comment that's necessary here. Fine, use Facebook for advocacy. The ALS challenge clearly demonstrated Facebook is actually good at that. But getting medical advice from Facebook? All I know is that the medical advice I see dispensed on Facebook would make a snake-oil seller from the Wild West blush. As an absolute edge case, I can see support pages for people with specific conditions, but I'll be a two-faced goat from Nepal if people stick to just being supportive, and don't start pe

    • Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice.

      Because when you're looking for highly accurate, trustworthy information, you think of Facebook!

      And exactly how is that any different from getting help or advice from friends, support groups, or discussion forums? I know a couple of people who are already doing this. One crucial point the article summary does not mention - people are searching for advice from facebook discussion forums focused on their medical ailment.

      As such, facebook is trying to encourage discussion forums - especially since they are realizing that many people are already using their site as a discussion forum.

      • No. Absolutely No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Facebook don't give a monkey's toss about anyone. They are not trying to engender valid discussions. They are going to monetise this. Full stop. For-profit companies do nothing -- nothing -- in the best interests of their users. This is about dissemination of data. Period. I trust no organisation for which the first charter is profit. Facebook has proven over and over again they are not to be trusted. They change their privacy settings on a whim, breaking existing settings, adding new ones that don't defaul

        • For-profit companies do nothing -- nothing -- in the best interests of their users.

          *Good* for-profit companies work in the best interests of their *customers*, because that's an excellent way to ensure they remain customers. Facebook's users are not, of course, Facebook's customers. Customers pay money for what they get.

    • I think people are reading too much into this, in fact I think people are misreading the article.

      Think about WebMD...do people trust information on that website? How is that different from advice on any other website, including Facebook?

      Facebook already has health related stuff already. I know people who are members of health related user groups on Facebook to help with mental issues, and it is beneficial for them.

      This isn't about linking your Facebook account with your medical provider's health chart dat

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        Facebook is like any other social networking site, full of inaccuracy. At least with WebMD and sites like NHS Direct, you can be pretty confident that when the online health diagnostic says in a big red box, "You have been gutshot, call for an ambulance immediately" it's pretty fucking serious to warrant a bit more than a paracetamol.

        (yes, I've been there with Facebook pages already where one of the comments I read in response to a list of symptoms someone was having (including a rash on his bell end) was "

  • by Anonymous Coward

    " saw a 21-fold increase in people registering to be organ donors. Second, they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice. "

    So they discovered that people use facebook. That doesn't make it a suitable medical advice hub or anything more than an ice bucket challenge portal.

  • the advice "never get medical or legal advice from the internets"?
    • by reikae ( 80981 )

      For a doctor it's very helpful and often necessary to see the patient in person, but I'm not sure why the same would apply to a lawyer and their client. Unless you meant it more generally, like "never get professional advice from non-professionals." Then again, IANAL.

  • They can't even... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unitron ( 5733 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:44AM (#48055251) Homepage Journal

    ...keep the comments section on Esquire's Politics Blog working, no way I trust them with anything regarding health and medicine.

  • Looking forward to Facebook posting videos of my colonoscopy!
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @09:46AM (#48055287)

    Realizing that when people are sick,they like to eat at McDonalds and that fast food potentially contributes to obesity McDonalds today announced their initiative to get into healthcare. Now, when placing an order, the crew will be trained to ask questions about the order takers health and healthier alternatives will be suggested instead. Customers who refuse to give over their health information as stored on their facebook account or ACA insurance card will not be served. McDonald's corporate CEO said "This is not unlike a bartender refusing to serve alcoholics. We see this as a good thing for us to give back to the community and help further civilization's goals and a healthier, happier people. Let's move it!"

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      Sliders already did it - customers had to answer a health questionnaire and sign a waiver for a burger.

  • "...they noticed users with chronic conditions had a tendency to search Facebook for advice."

    Really?

    The same social network that convinced iMorons to use the kitchen microwave to charge their shiny new iPhones?

    Since they mentioned chronic conditions, I can only assume they were suffering from chronic stupidity and one hell of a rash of ignorance.

    This should go over well. Have fun with HIPAA too.

  • ... big pharma will love this. Facebook is getting to be like the goddam department of motor vehicles where you have to register all your stuff.

    People need to realize Facebook is not the IRS. It's an ENTERTAINMENT site. Taking it seriously is a big mistake.

  • As somebody with a chronic condition, I'm in a group or two on facebook about it. Its nice to get advice from real people who have dealt with things before. However, I find that 85% of people that are in the group usually post things akin to "I'm vomiting blood, have horrible pain and high fever, what should I do?" Erm... maybe go to the ER? While its not a bad thing to use to seek out some general advice (especially if you take anything you hear with a grain of salt), a lot of people use it as a sub
    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      For hypochondriacs (or the modern variant, "webochondriac", that spends hours on end diagnosing themselves on WebMD) this is the worst. possible. thing.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        "I've got one of three things, in increasing order of probability: I'm dead, I'm pregnant, or I have gas."

        (uh... I'll take "Things Sheldon would say" for 300?)

  • Cue the facebook donorlist killer ;)
  • by bradgoodman ( 964302 ) on Friday October 03, 2014 @10:05AM (#48055445) Homepage
    I can't possibly envision ever making Facebook privy to ANY health issues whatsoever. They would gladly shill that information out for profit - undoubtibly why they're doing it. With something such as health issues which are so confidential, making Facebook privy to any of this would be absolutely terrible.
    • You're a little late to the party. The ACA (Affordable Care Act, AKA 'Obamacare') has mandated that EHRs have a patient accessible web based information portal to get copies of their medical records and to keep track of their ongoing care.

      These are pretty large processes, so who is ponying up to create them?

      Google, Microsoft, Apple. You know, those big, Internet related companies. Who is missing? Yep, Facebook. But now they're on board.

      And now comes the big issue. Up until now, your medical informatio

  • fucked if I'm letting Facebook at it as well.

  • The mental health section should just be a page that says "get off Facebook."
  • I can see it now hoards of people gathering around with straining ears to hear the call of the majestic space quack and his new dietary supplements.

    Available now for 4 easy payments of $19.99.

  • I find it so contradictory that the same mass of people that seek booths in order to hide who they vote for, are so willing to hand out information that's much more personal to a site like facebook.
    • I find it so contradictory that the same mass of people that seek booths in order to hide who they vote for, are so willing to hand out information that's much more personal to a site like facebook.

      I will decide what's more or less "personal" for me, thank you very much.

  • I can see where this is going.. Account deactivated.

  • People laughed when I said the iWatch's biometric tracking would be a "requirement" to run the facebook iWatch app or a myriad of other apps. It is painful that this is a reasonably foreseeable direction for these companies.

  • From the social network that outlawed breastfeeding comes a new service for helping people track their health records. Christ what a load of bunk.

  • Does anyone here trust Facebook? Seriously.

  • “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
      Albert Einstein

  • It'd track the hours you spent sitting on your butt on FB, vs actually doing something which would be healthy ... And then... Wait for it... not report that to you, as those hours represent revenue $ from ads...

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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