- April 9, 2018
Facebook Conspires to Exploit Medical Patients
In an epic fail of historical proportions, Facebook continues to lose face and all credibility as a responsible social media platform pledged to uphold “Community Standards” and all things good (and liberal).
Recent news reveals that Facebook was too busy profiting from naive and trusting users who exchanged a free account that received and displayed uploaded personal and business data for the voluntary and informed surrender of some Constitutional 4th Amendment rights to privacy.
In case you missed the civics (or social studies) class, here is the text of that key addition to our national playbook, from Time:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Facebook attracted lots of advertisers and made big returns on investment, assuring users that both the main platform and third-party apps (like games, quizzes, and surveys) would honor all the user’s privacy settings, to protect the user’s profile, everything uploaded or messaged, and the user’s Facebook Friends list.
Trouble arose when the Cambridge Analytica bombshell exploded, showing the world that Facebook was careless – in fact, ignorant and uncaring – about their users’ rights to privacy.
As of April 4, 2018, some 87 MILLION people have had their Facebook data “mined” (collected and used for marketing/advertising or other purposes) by Cambridge Analytica alone. Facebook currently has about 2.2 billion users.
Now we are hearing that Facebook was planning to collude with Freddy Abnousi, a Stanford, California cardiologist. A shocking article from the Daily Mail revealed that Facebook “has been in talks with high profile US hospitals in an attempt to obtain patient data about illnesses and prescriptions.”
The idea (which is illegal, by the way) is to combine HIPAA-protected hospital patient data about Facebook users’ medical conditions with the users’ socio-economic status, as determined from the information the users post on Facebook.
CNBC indicated that, as recently as last month, Facebook asked several top U.S. hospitals to provide “anonymized” patient data “for a research project.”
Although the anonymized data would hide identifiable information such as the patient’s name, a technique known to any savvy third party software developer called “hashing” can match up individuals with data in both sets, thereby providing a positive identification.
Naturally, Facebook and Dr. Abnousi have only the public’s best interests at heart. (That was sarcasm, by the way.) From the Daily Mail article cited above:
“If someone is elderly and does not have friends or family living nearby (information that can be obtained from Facebook), doctors could send over a nurse to check on them after serious surgery.”
Of course, they could. And they can just leave the bill by the door on their way out. Talk about a hot sales market!
Surely Dr. Abnousi understands that culling patient information to target advertising on Facebook is against the law? Yet, Facebook held meetings to discuss, seriously, this nefarious conspiracy.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal over privacy violations has stopped this Facebook project dead in its tracks as corporate leaders scramble to save their sinking ship. This Newsmax quote, from a Facebook statement to CNBC, sums up the current company mindset – and legal position:
“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.”
The bottom line is that now Facebook’s executives have some ‘splainin’ to do, as corporate stock shares continue their decline, recently down $40/share in two months, equal to about $100 billion in stock value since February:
In a disturbing NPR interview with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, it becomes clear that the social media giant allowed third-party access to millions of users’ data – and had no oversight over this illegal data mining operation.
Sandberg defended Facebook’s negligence by saying, “We were way too idealistic. We did not think enough about the abuse cases.”
What Facebook did think about was imposing their own editorial and moral standards on the user and advertiser community, censoring conservative and controversial posts and account owners.
Granted, the service is free. Until you realize that all your personal information, including pictures of your kids and your pet’s name – and soon perhaps, your case of gout or athlete’s foot – has been scooped up for exploitation by a corporate conspiracy.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who is scheduled to testify at congressional hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday, is now “taking really firm action,” according to his COO Sandberg.
So is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as they examine a 2011 consent decree for violations, particularly giving third parties “unrestricted access to user data without users’ permission and contrary to user preferences and expectations.”
Due to the millions of users who have been damaged legally, at $40,000 per violation, Facebook might be looking at almost $3.5 TRILLION of financial obligations. Need we point out that this enormous sum of money would probably bankrupt the beleaguered company?
One can only wonder what “taking really firm action” means to this unscrupulous and unethical CEO, the man who “zucked up” a good thing so royally. Instant karma, anyone?