Who isn't on Facebook these days? It's one of the largest social networking sites and let's be honest we can't really spend one day without scrolling through our feed. But deep down, Facebook is also a lot more. When you sign up for the website, it collects a hoard of your data like your age, phone number, preferences, music habits etc. And now a study has found that just from your statuses it might be possible for Facebook to determine whether you have some mental illness or other ailments.
The study was able to determine that certain people according to their age and gender as well as demographic information had certain ailments or were prone to certain ailments. This information combined with the type of statuses they uploaded was able to determine these health outcomes. “Because such content is constantly being created outside the context of health care systems and clinical studies, it can reveal disease markers in patients’ daily lives that are otherwise invisible to clinicians and medical researchers,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers found that relying only on statuses could also help them figure out whether people had diabetes, pregnancy, anxiety, psychoses, chronic pulmonary disease, sexually transmitted disease, and drug abuse. They could even predict depression and alcohol abuse, however, they were awful at predicting obesity. The researchers said that certain words the users used made it evident that they had a certain condition. But when it came to diabetes, people were more inclined on using religious terms. “This association may be specific to our patient cohort and suggests the potential to explore the role of religion in diabetes management or control,” the researchers wrote.
But now the question that arises is whether this thing is really good or is it bad? It could be put to good use in certain situations like if Facebook were to determine that a person was suicidal, this person could be shown the right places to get in touch with to seek help. Alternatively, this could also be seen as a violation of the user's privacy since the user is not asking for help from Facebook explicitly and this information is being used without their consent.
Well, this goes to prove that technology certainly has come a long way. But whether it can be put to good use or whether it can be misused is completely in our hands. Stay tuned for more updates.