Facebooking health: good for communities, not for privacy?

In a Reuters exclusive, Facebook is reportedly considering creating online communities which will support those with various medical conditions, as well as ‘preventative care’ applications for those minding their healthy lifestyle. According to Reuters’ sources, Facebook representatives have been meeting with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs. They are also starting a research and development unit to test new health apps. It is not a far reach to assume that Facebook, which is always seeking to maximize its profitability dependent on digital ad revenues (second only to Google), yet finding its younger audience on the decline, is attempting to grapple with the concerns of its older-skewing audience–and also seeking a way to monetize another slice of data. Yet the 55+ audience is wary of Facebook given its privacy track record. Sharing disease, symptom and treatment experiences under actual names can be a major drawback unless Facebook separates these communities and explicitly promises privacy. If Facebook goes forward, sites such as PatientsLikeMe, WebMD and the multiplicity of private sites aggregated on websites such as CarePages and Ben’s Friends (rare diseases) can be hard pressed to compete. Reuters, FierceMobileHealthcare

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