Facebook makes history as the first social platform to offer preventative health

Facebook is taking to its US users and offering an innovative preventative health tool for appointments, locating low-cost services, and more. Will users be trusting enough to use the new Facebook technology? And more importantly, will their data be protected?
Facebook's Preventative Health Tool
Facebook has launched its new Preventative Health Tool to US users but isn’t completely well-received. Photo: Facebook

New Technology for Preventative Health

Facebook announced its new Facebook technology known as the Preventative Health Tool on Monday. Dr. Freddy Abnousi, The Head of Healthcare Research for Facebook and Interventional Cardiologist, states the tool was devised to get people to become more proactive about their health.

Facebook claims its tool helps allow users to find the most affordable options in their area. The tool’s initial focus is on screening for Heart Disease and Cancer. These are considered to be the two leading causes of death in America, according to the CDC.

Flu prevention is also a main focal point. Flu season is well underway and is approaching its peak. The hope is that the tool will help to diagnose, treat and end the spread more effectively.

Privacy Concerns among Users

It’s no secret that Facebook has battled its fair share of public scrutiny. There have been many issues for Facebook to contend with in the way of personal data breaches. They’ve also fought through additional privacy concerns over the past year.

Many users on the platform are still feeling bitter after having learned of the mishandling of their data. According to The New York Times, this included friends list data and access to private photos. Netflix and Spotify reportedly gained access to private user messages – unbeknownst to users.

Mark Zuckerberg addressing the issue of privacy
Mark Zuckerberg addresses the issue of privacy and the future of Facebook at the F8 conference. Photo: Facebook

Facebook’s Stance on User Privacy

Facebook seems to be well aware of the concern over user privacy, and even put a dedicated statement together for all who would like to read more about it.

In a news piece released by Facebook, they address how they will – and will not – use personal information:

“Health is particularly personal, so we took privacy and safety into account from the beginning. For example, Preventive Health allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it doesn’t provide us, or the health organizations we’re working with, access to your actual test results.

Personal information about your activity in Preventive Health is not shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it can’t be used for purposes like insurance eligibility.”

Is Facebook dead?
Users are still sore over the personal data breach that occurred last year. Photo: Flickr

A Real Attempt at Redemption, or Just Another Trick?

This could be an honest attempt at redemption with its users by offering them something new. However, their goal could be to obtain more user data to sell. All in all, it’s anyone’s guess what may or may not happen with user data.

I believe it to be a little bit of both.

Whether or not it will be an effective tool in helping to keep people healthy has yet to be seen. Since the technology is so new, it will take some time before its results can be seen.

People seem to be split 50/50 on the idea of the service. Some are touting it as a great tool aimed at truly helping people take control of their health. Others feel as though Facebook is not to be trusted and still has a long way to go to in proving itself.

One thing’s for sure: this tool is sure to be a big topic of discussion one way or another.

What’s your take on this new Facebook technology? Let us know in a comment below.

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