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- Facebook has paused its work on a project that aims to link people’s health information with information about their social circles. But in March, Facebook paused its work, which was still in the planning phase, CNBC reports.
- Last month, it was revealed that 87 million people may have been impacted by a leak of personal data to Cambridge Analytica, a firm with ties to President Donald Trump.
- The intent was to see if anonymous Facebook data could be used in scientific research to help patients with conditions like heart health.
Facebook’s plans to share anonymized data with health organizations have been put on pause in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to CNBC.
The project, which is said to have bee run under Facebook’s mysterious Building 8 lab, has only made it into the planning phase. The aim of the project is to link people’s health information with information about their social circles.
That social data, which would be anonymized, would have been used to help with research on how to better treat medical issues like heart conditions. Social factors, known as social determinants of health, can be integral to a person’s overall health and well-being.
Facebook told CNBC that the decision to put the discussions with health organizations were in part to make sure the company was better about protecting data and helping users understand how their data was being used.
“Last month we decided that we should pause these discussions so we can focus on other important work, including doing a better job of protecting people’s data and being clearer with them about how that data is used in our products and services,” Facebook said in a statement to CNBC.
In March, it was revealed that as many as 87 million Facebook users were impacted by a leak of personal data to Cambridge Analytica, a firm with ties to President Donald Trump.
Facebook said in that statement that it had been having discussions with medical organizations including the American College of Cardiology and Stanford University School of Medicine.
Here’s the full statement Facebook provided to CNBC:
“The medical industry has long understood that there are general health benefits to having a close-knit circle of family and friends. But deeper research into this link is needed to help medical professionals develop specific treatment and intervention plans that take social connection into account.
“With this in mind, last year Facebook began discussions with leading medical institutions, including the American College of Cardiology and the Stanford University School of Medicine, to explore whether scientific research using anonymized Facebook data could help the medical community advance our understanding in this area. This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone’s data.
“Last month we decided that we should pause these discussions so we can focus on other important work, including doing a better job of protecting people’s data and being clearer with them about how that data is used in our products and services.”