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Facebook in Early Development on Implementing Health Care Support Groups and Preventative Care Apps

Better or worse than asking your Twitter followers for medical advice?


Death panels? Not real. But Facebook reminding you that it’s been two years since you got a basic physical? …Maybe?

No less than Reuters is reporting that according to multiple sources who wish to remain anonymous, Facebook is in the idea-gathering stage of considering how to incorporate the intersection of our social lives and our medical lives into our Facebook lives. And it… doesn’t sound completely horrible? I mean I guess it’s still in the idea-gathering stage, so maybe it’ll sound horrible later.

At the moment, Reuters reports that there are two ideas Facebook is throwing around: creating better site infrastructure to allow users to connect in support groups based on a shared disease or condition, and “new ‘preventative care’ applications that would help people improve their lifestyles.” And it turns out that Facebook may be considering this because of how users are already interacting with the service.

For example, in 2012, Facebook temporarily changed profile pages to allow users to publicly show their organ donor status as part of an awareness-raising initiative. On that day, according to the American Journal of Transplantation, 13,054 people registered to be organ donors online in the US, compared to a usual daily average of a mere six hundred six. Facebook also notices just how often its users search Facebook for advice on living with diabetes and other chronic ailments, instead of or in addition to participating in other more specifically health-care-focused social networks. In order to follow up on these new venues of use for the site, sources say that Facebook has been talking to “medical industry experts and entrepreneurs,” so we can worry a bit less that there’ll be no actual medical professionals behind the potential changes.

Another thing not to worry about? Targeted pharmaceutical advertising based on what medical information users share with Facebook, because the company prohibits the advertising of prescription drugs on the site already.

Of course, the first step to getting users to share their personal medical information is to assure them of privacy, which might be the hurdle that Facebook has the most difficulty getting over.

(via Reuters)

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.