September 17, 2009|
As social networking sites and technologies have flourished over the last few years, there has been much discussion about privacy today. It is not that uncommon for people to provide updates about their personal lives on their Facebook accounts or Twitter feeds. They talk about if they are sick, have a crush on somebody, are out partying, etc.
While this information sharing is innocuous at times while concerning at others, there are some social networks that are pushing the limits. For instance, while at the O’Reilly Gov 2.0 Summit last week, I learned about the site PatientsLikeMe. This is a fascinating site in which people with medical conditions come to connect with other people suffering from the same condition. However, there is so much more than providing moral support and answering questions, people are expected to build detailed profiles about their bodies and health histories. When they undergo treatment, they are encourage to share their experiences to it. Does it give them gas? Do they get headaches? Is their sex life affected? Of course, does the treatment actually work?
Now, it is one thing for me to announce on Facebook that I’m going to have Papa John’s Pizza for dinner tonight, but it is another to share personal side effects of a medication that I’m currently taking. PatientsLikeMe does acknowledge privacy, but expounds upon the importance of openness on the site by stating: “You see, we believe sharing your healthcare experiences and outcomes is good…for a greater purpose: speeding up the pace of research and fixing a broken healthcare system.” By sharing detailed health information about yourself, you help others understand how medical conditions and the procedures used to treat them work.
So, do you think that openly sharing your health information on the Internet is worth the potential it can to help others with their health?