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LAS VEGAS — Facebook on Monday took a step into preventive medicine, rolling out a new tool to encourage users to get flu shots as well as appropriate cancer screenings and heart health tests. But the success of the new product may depend on whether the social media giant can regain consumers’ trust.

The company is asking people to use its site to make and record decisions about their health care — such as logging completion of a cholesterol test — at a time when it is trying to contain the fallout from months of controversy around privacy, sharing of user data, and misinformation.


Facebook said it’s put up strict safeguards to protect the privacy of people who use the new tool. The company vowed not to share the data generated through the tool with third parties. It won’t let other users on Facebook see when people use the feature. Nor will it allow advertisers to target ads to users based on the information they share using the tool — though they might see targeted ads if they click through to another website or navigate away to like the page of a health care organization. Within Facebook, the data from the tool will be accessible only to a subset of employees focused on keeping the feature functional.

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  • FB is taking ridiculous liberties, under guise of “helping” people. Seriously? all of a sudden philantropic? Guaranteed, at some point the medical data will get “hacked” and shared, for scandalous profits (likely via their other planned liberty, the “Libra” cryptocurrency). So KISS : don’t share anything on FB that you want to keep private. Or better yet : everyone addicted to the “need” to share their lives on FB : it is very liberating to (learn to) say “no!”

  • “Facebook said it’s put up strict safeguards to protect the privacy of people who use the new tool.”

    OK, then prove it. Facebook has mishandled consumer and user data so frequently and with so few consequences that their statements carry no weight until they make this new feature accessible to third-party audits and transparently publish the results. Make no mistake, Facebook’s business model relies upon lax enforcement of data safety and, considering the massive scale of the data breaches they have presided over again and again, they’ve gotten off with barely even a slap on the wrist. In the words of the inimitable Lethal Bizzle, “WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU!”

    It is also worth noting that the FTC complain regarding SicGrl has not been resolved and this should be clarified in the text.

    Furthermore, this is jaw-dropping:

    “In early 2018, Abnousi led an exploratory project that involved asking several hospitals to share anonymized data about their patients for research purposes.”

    Did patients consent to this?

  • I find it laughable that Facebook is attempting to cast itself as a viable place for people to manage their health, while Facebook is simultaneously allowing literal lying in paid political ads. Which is it, guys – making the world more open and connected, having a voice? Or ever-deepening surveillance of every aspect of our lives, with little honesty/transparency/ethics from the platform’s side? There can be no user trust in Facebook at this point, given how regularly the C-suite talks out of both sides of their mouths simultaneously.

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