Is Facebook’s Data Breach Concerning to Health Consumers? Patients Weigh In

Who you share your private information with is a personal matter, one that you — and you alone — should have control over. But now that the Cambridge Analytica crisis has reportedly affected upwards of 87 million Facebook users, information may be in the hands of large firms and potential hackers.

A large section of Facebook users are health influencers and patients. In fact, over 29 percent of people viewing health information on social media sites are looking at other individuals’ health-related experiences. Moreover, upwards of 32 percent of social media users post about their friends and family’ health experiences.

One thing that is unclear — and has gone largely unnoticed during this scandal — is how health and wellness consumers as a whole will feel and react to this situation.

“The recent scandal is unsettling, and I think it’s just the beginning,” said community advocate Alisha Bridges. She relies on Facebook and her blog, Being Me in My Own Skin, to share her story of living with severe psoriasis for over 20 years. “Facebook has the most active users out of all platforms, so it’s a great source to reach millions of people through a relatable or funny post through the comfort of your home.”

While Bridges is being more cautious of what she’s posting, not every consumer is concerned by this data breach.

“As an advocate for what chronic illness does to someone, I don’t have much to hide,” said Eileen Davidson, a blogger and ambassador of the Arthritis Society. “I believe in sharing the nitty-gritty of being a chronically ill single mother trying to get by on disability. It’s certainly no peaches and cream.”

Revealing any sensitive health information on social media can have its downside, especially after a data breach like this one. The recent weeks have stimulated a lot of buzz on Facebook amongst the 1.40 billion daily active users about sharing personal information.

We asked our Healthline Living with Crohn’s Disease and Living with Osteoarthritis Facebook communities if they were less likely to share their health status or information because of this data privacy scandal. One member said they were careful about what they shared in the first place. Another added that they really have nothing to hide.

Bridges is taking time to increase her privacy settings and is already planning to monitor her pages more closely. “The current scandal won’t change how I share my experience or how frequently I use the platform. However, I will be more conscious of who I allow on my page as well as the apps I give access to,” she said.

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