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On Facebook: Is health different?

Submitted by on April 26, 2010 – 11:04 am7 Comments

When Facebook announced its new Open Graph functionality at the F8 conference last week, the first thing we did at our office, obviously, was rush to Pandora to see what kind of music our coworkers were listening to that we could make fun of them for. (By now, most have heard of or experienced Facebook’s new controversial feature rollout, which effectively “extends its tentacles across the internet” with a universal “like” button. Check out the comments from the Washington Post’s chat for reactions to their implementation).

Let’s face it – it’s semi-terrifying that our music choices – choices that for many are personal – could be accessed by everyone we are “friends” with on facebook (or, if you have a public profile, anyone can see what you are listening to). And without us knowing.

It led us to thinking about our own sites, and how we could - should? – implement the new features. We began with these inalienable truths:

  • Health is extremely personal
  • Trust is crucial to us and to our users

And one question:

  • Does this help people looking for answers and support?

And ultimately, this philosophical debate (which we have often):

  • Is health different?

Is health different? It’s something we discuss often as the online experience evolves. It’s certainly more private than music. It’s definitely different than finance, though there are connections with that online experience as well. Could you imagine logging on to your personal banking site to see what friends had invested in?

How about logging on to a health site to see content your friends had “liked” regarding health?  Would you feel like your privacy was compromised? Has anyone seen (either successfully or not) the facebook features on a health experience?

(By the way, if you’re really creeped out by what Facebook has done, here’s how to disable the feature.)

Google Buzz

7 Comments »

  • Lisa Emrich says:

    This was an interesting move for Facebook and for the sites which are participating. Like many of my FB friends, I immediately disabled the feature on my profile.

    Questions I have regarding HealthCentral and Facebook include: how has the community embraced the new FB login/registration option and the offer to “share” comments, answers, or posts on their FB profile?

    Even as a writer here, I have not used either feature and have to repeatedly decline. I do, however, have links to my Shareposts automatically appear on my FB feed through the networkedblogs feature. I have the same going on with my Twitter account using Hootsuite.

    These seem to be enough automatic sharing for me personally right now…and I’m probably more open than most just simply judging from the vast amounts of personal information I share weekly on HealthCentral, my blog and elsewhere.

    I’ll be interested to see how HealthCentral navigates these ever lengthening tentacles of various social networking platforms, including Facebook.

    Good post. And I came here by way of my Facebook feed. :)

    @LisaEmrich
    Brass and Ivory blog

    • Lisa – thanks for your comment! In terms of the facebook sign-on, it’s a great idea for a post and I’ll write up something soon about the popularity of it.

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