Both Apple and Google have started to focus more on healthcare. No to be left out of the crowd, Facebook is following suit. A Reuters Special Report indicates that Facebook is working on developing special groups that will connect Facebook users suffering from the same ailments or mental illnesses to one another.
The company is well posed to create such groups, since Facebook already knows a lot about every single one of its users.
Facebook Support Communities
Citing sources close to the company, Reuters states that the Facebook groups would be considered support communities, and that these communities would be set up and run by Facebook. How users would be invited to join the communities has yet to be revealed, but it’s clear that the communities will be useful (no doubt that Facebook already has information about which users would enjoy which groups, and you may see these suggestions pop up relatively soon).
In addition to the support communities, Facebook is also considering various applications that would be of the preventative sort. According to the aforementioned sources, Facebook has been meeting with medical industry experts in order to further develop apps, and the team is very close to creating apps that people will find both useful and helpful.
The Reason Behind the Move to Healthcare
In 2012, Facebook made it possible for network users to select an organ donor status through profile pages. Surprisingly, over 13,000 people signed up to be organ donors through Facebook - a 21 percent increase. Clearly, Facebook could tap into the health market, so that’s where the company is putting its attention currently.
It was also made clear through Facebook’s own marketing research that people using the social network often looked for specific health-related groups. For example, people using Facebook and also suffering from breast cancer often look for breast cancer groups, so that they can reach out and talk to others going through the same thing. This research furthered Facebook’s notion that healthcare is an area the social network can tap into, and it’s clear that people are already looking for those types of health-related groups on Facebook.
Privacy and Advertising
Facebook already bans pharmaceutical companies from advertising through the social network, since targeting drugs at users seems unethical. So, people searching for a specific healthcare group through Facebook don’t have to worry about pharmaceutical advertisements. The other concern is privacy, since Facebook was recently exposed for experimenting with user news feeds.
Privacy is going to be one hard hurdle for Facebook to jump when it comes to healthcare, but the company seems to be working on that detail. It’s also worth nothing that Facebook no longer requires people to use real names, so users could easily go with an alias if they want to keep things really private. Whether or not Facebook will be able to successfully set up healthcare groups remains to be seen, but the company is certainly looking in that direction. Would you join a Facebook healthcare group, or does this seem too risky?