Earlier this year, Facebook backed off a plan to share user health data with doctors and hospitals after it was already embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal. But, according to reports this week, the idea hasn’t gone away within Facebook.
Facebook’s head of health research, Dr. Freddy Abnousi, called for researchers to have sweeping access to patients’ health data while speaking at a conference this week. He didn’t come out and say that Facebook should be the one to provide this information, but his meaning was clear. Abnousi was the leader of the original data project that would have seen Facebook obtain anonymous patient data and match it with user data to help hospitals determine care.
“Even setting aside the voluminous evidence showing that true anonymization of data is virtually impossible, Facebook’s stated intent was never to leave the data anonymized,” The Washington Post noted in April. “But requesting the hospitals’ data in that form would allow Facebook to sidestep the issue of obtaining patients’ consent, as required by federal law.”
While it’s no surprise Facebook wants to get its hands on this super-sensitive data and share it, it is disappointing. With the news of another recent hack affecting 50 million users, it’s impossible to trust the company with our information.