May 1 12

Does Facebook Want Your Medical Records?

by Jeremy Lettiere
does-facebook-want-your-medical-records

Today on Good Morning America, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network will now offer a Health and Wellness section on profiles, where users can learn how to register to become an organ donor and post their organ donor status.

Facebook’s intention for this new tool is to raise awareness about the critical importance of organ donation, stating that “many [patients] – an average of 18 people per day – will die waiting, because there simply aren’t enough organ donors to meet the need.”

The new Health and Wellness option in the Life Events section of your Facebook Timeline offers the following choices:

  • Organ donor
  • Overcame an illness
  • Quit a habit
  • New eating habits
  • Weight loss
  • Glasses, contacts, other
  • Broken bones

A review of these options reveals that Facebook’s motives for creating such a section are not limited to their commitment to public service.

As Facebook continues to gather more detailed information about the nearly one billion members that use the social network, their ability to provide targeted solutions for their advertisers increases. The more comprehensive the information Facebook can provide regarding our health, the more Facebook can demand from the billions spent annually to market pharmaceuticals, smoking cessation programs, weight loss products, eyeglasses and more.

Of course, this is potentially only the beginning. There are already several web platforms that allow people to better manage their health through online medical records, such as Microsoft Health Vault, Dossia and Activ Doctors Online.

If Facebook’s users become increasingly comfortable submitting health-related information online, it is not hard to imagine a day when we refer our doctor to our Facebook profile prior to an examination, where he can access our complete medical history from our “Health Timeline” and make an informed diagnosis based on our profile’s health data. All the while, Facebook’s advertisers suggest the best possible products to alleviate the condition.

What do you think? Is Facebook’s Health and Wellness section merely a new way to gather basic medical information to help save lives, or is it the beginning of the Facebook Medical Record?

Posted in: Social Media

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