Facebook has been getting quite a bit of bad press lately, with the Cambridge Analytica debacle, the data breach that affected 50 million users, and most recently, taking down the pages of a triple-amputee vet who paid the social media giant over $300,000 for advertising.
Now, according to the Sokolove law firm, Facebook was given the medical records of many Americans by hospitals & healthcare facilities. That is illegal & is a violation of state privacy laws!
Earlier this year, Facebook was in fact in discussions with major hospitals and asked them for the medical data of their patients. Facebook wanted to combine the medical data with the data they had collected about their users so they could “help” people. Apparently, Facebook cares about our well-being now, or it was just about doing whatever it takes, including breaking the law to make money!
Mainstream media covered the story, although, Facebook told reporters that the project never got past the planning stages. But Sokolove Law begs to differ.
According to CNBC:
“Facebook has asked several major U.S. hospitals to share anonymized data about their patients, such as illnesses and prescription info, for a proposed research project. Facebook was intending to match it up with user data it had collected, and help the hospitals figure out which patients might need special care or treatment.
“This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone’s data,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.
But as recently as last month, the company was talking to several health organizations, including Stanford Medical School and American College of Cardiology, about signing the data-sharing agreement.
The issue of patient consent did not come up in the early discussions, one of the people said. Critics have attacked Facebook in the past for doing research on users without their permission. Notably, in 2014, Facebook manipulated hundreds of thousands of people’s news feeds to study whether certain types of content made people happier or sadder. Facebook later apologized for the study.
Health policy experts say that this health initiative would be problematic if Facebook did not think through the privacy implications.
“Consumers wouldn’t have assumed their data would be used in this way,” said Aneesh Chopra, president of a health software company specializing in patient data called CareJourney and the former White House chief technology officer.”
Now, you see, Facebook said they received no data from the healthcare facilities, yet, the Sokolove Law firm just sent letters to their clients & others stating that Facebook had, in fact, come into possession of medical records. That means Facebook would have come into possession of the data illegally.
Here is a photo of one of the letters that a reader sent to us. We blurred out the reader’s personal info & the case number.
As you can see, the letter states there were privacy “breaches” at the healthcare facilities. It also states that Facebook received “patient’s personally identifiable information,” and that the sharing of that information is illegal! Facebook didn’t know they weren’t supposed to receive the data? Really? Or they knew & took it anyway? They broke the law! That is for sure!
Facebook stated that they had not received any medical records. Here’s the company’s statement to CNBC:
“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.”
Now, we see, according to Sokolove Law, Facebook is either mistaken or lying outright. I guess we’ll find out which when they are in court! Break the law, pay the price!
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