Happy Monday, readers. I hope you enjoyed your weekend.
Facebook is expanding its reach into the health care arena. The social media giant announced Monday that it’s launching a new preventive health tool that aims to link its users with testing and screening resources.
The tool makes recommendations for checkups and screenings based on demographic factors such as age and gender. That can include, say, reminders that people above a certain age should regularly check on their blood pressure and heart health; cancer screenings and flu shots will be two other major focus areas (the latter is particularly significant given Facebook’s unfortunate reputation as a breeding ground for unscientific anti-vaccine disinformation).
Of course, anything involving social media—especially something as sensitive as health information—is going to raise some privacy hackles. Facebook appears to be aware of that reality.
“We don’t share personal information about your activity in Preventive Health with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it can’t be used for purposes like insurance eligibility,” said Erin Egan, the company’s chief privacy officer for public policy, in a statement.
“You can decide whether you want to use the Preventive Health tool. The tool will give you options to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it will not give us access to your actual test results.”
The Preventive Health tool was created in partnership with major medical groups such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Last month, Facebook announced an initiative to share public data on suicide and self-harm in order to help researchers discover new ways to use social media in order to prevent suicides.
Read on for the day’s news.