Facebook spoke with hospitals about matching health data to anonymized profiles

Facebook began talking with hospitals last year about the possibility of matching profiles of anonymous users with health data in an effort to improve health care, according to a CNBC report that exposes the program. Facebook confirmed its work to CNBC but said it had "paused" in the program last month – presumably after the Cambridge Analytica scandal – to focus on "doing a better job of protecting people's data" and being more clear about how it is used.

The plan had been to get hospitals to share anonymous medical information (such as health problems and age, but not name) and match it with anonymous Facebook accounts that seemed to belong to those same people, according to the report. Then, somehow, I would use the knowledge of Facebook behavior of users to inform medical treatments. In an example given by CNBC says that Facebook could have determined that an elderly user did not have many local friends, so a hospital could send a nurse to review them while recovering from surgery.

In a statement to CNBC, Facebook said: "This work has not progressed beyond the planning phase and we have not received, shared or analyzed anyone's data". . "

Although the report makes it sound like the data would be customized for specific patients, Facebook said in an email to The Verge that it would be used in general instead." The project will not attempt to provide recommendations from health for specific people, "said a spokesperson." Instead, the focus would be on producing general ideas that would help medical professionals take into account the social connection as they develop treatment or intervention programs for their patients. "[19659008] Probably this was not a great idea even without the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal involving the company Basically, Facebook proposed to collect medical data without users' permission, and then secretly link it to their profiles. violation of privacy.

Although Facebook was going through the medical channels to receive the data, it was in With organizations like Stanford Medical School and the American College of Cardiology, according to CNBC, it sounded as if patients did. they have not needed to give their consent for their information to be shared.

Facebook tells us that there would have been no "data anonymization" and that access to the data would theoretically be limited to selected people from Facebook and our medical research partners at [American College of Cardiology]. "

Here is the explanation that Facebook gave to CNBC for its motivation behind this program:

" The medical industry has understood for some time that there are general health benefits by having a very close circle of family members and friends. But a deeper investigation of this link is needed to help medical professionals develop specific treatment and intervention plans that take into account the social connection. With this in mind, last year Facebook started discussions … to explore whether scientific research using anonymous Facebook data could help the medical community advance our understanding in this area. "

Cathy Gates, Acting Executive Director from the American College of Cardiology, he also gave CNBC a statement, which he added: "This partnership is in the early stages as we work on both sides to ensure privacy, transparency and scientific rigor."

] Facebook initially focused on its research on cardiovascular health, and none of the statements makes it appear that Facebook is ending the program, and any medical organization that has been in talks with Facebook would be wise to carefully consider the privacy scandal that continues to affect Facebook. the company.