Most savvy Facebook users already understand that the social media site knows everything about us. However, a group of academics who published a recent study in Lancet Psychiatry Journal actually want Facebook to gather more information about us, and regarding a sensitive subject to boot: mental health.
These experts argue that the bits and pieces of our lives we upload to Facebook and other social media sites — including pictures, statuses and messages to friends — provide a more honest and comprehensive picture than the kind of information people self-report.
“Social networking sites are a part of everyday life for over a billion people worldwide,” the study authors wrote. “They show no sign of declining popularity, with social media use increasing at three times the rate of other Internet use. Despite this proliferation, mental health care has yet to embrace this unprecedented resource.”
According to the study, Facebook could run a language analysis algorithm to pick up symptoms of mental illness, and even analyze user photos for “emotional facial expressions.”
It’s a little surprising that a group of academics would encourage Facebook to breach user privacy in such a major way, especially with such sensitive, personal information.