It turns out that in addition to promiscuously sharing user data with anyone who would pay, Facebook was planning to use health data from hospitals for further refine their profiles of their users:
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.
The proposal never went past the planning phases and has been put on pause after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal raised public concerns over how Facebook and others collect and use detailed information about Facebook users.
“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.
Let’s be clear about this: The data would not have been meaningfully anonymized, because you COULD NOT meaningfully anonymize the data.
The data itself would indicate who the individuals in question were, and in fact HAD TO, because otherwise it would serve no use, because it had to be target at SPECIFIC PATIENTS who might, “Need special care or treatment.”
The business plan here was to take the data, merge it with other data to get personalized medical information, and then sell it back to doctors and hospitals.
If that does not chill you, figure that the next step would have been making it available to businesses to allow them to pre-screen applicants to exclude those who would likely have expensive health problems.
Think of it as a FICO score for your life.
Are you horrified yet?