Facebook Intended to Secretly Pair Medical Data with Users’ Profiles

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Facebook contacted hospitals to match several unknown user profiles with health data, to improve medical care, according to a CNBC report on April 5, 2018.

Facebook confirmed working on the program, however, stated that it paused the program in March 2018, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company intended to receive medical information of users from hospitals, such as health issues and age, excluding name. They planned on match this data with anonymized Facebook accounts that appeared to belong to same people, according to the report.

Facebook would then somehow use insights from users’ Facebook behavior to inform medical treatments. In one example, Facebook might have determined that an elderly user did not have many local friends, so a hospital may want to send a nurse to check in on them while recovering from a surgery.

In a statement to CNBC, Facebook said “The project would not attempt to provide health recommendations for specific people. This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone’s data. The project would not attempt to provide health recommendations for specific people. Instead the focus would be on producing general insights that would help medical professionals take social connectedness into account as they develop treatment or intervention programs for their patients.

Facebook was attempting to collect medical data without users’ permission, and secretly pairing it to their profiles. That would have been an immense violation of privacy.

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