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Facebook Can See What Ails You

David Gilbert

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Facebook Can See What Ails You

It has emerged that Facebook, along with three other third-party companies, are being fed data from the NHS Choices website regarding what information people are accessing.

The issue came to light following a blog posting from Mischa Tuffield, a developer at Garlik, a company that specializes in prevention of identity theft. Mischa’s curiosity was roused when he saw the Facebook ‘Like’ button on the Choices website. Following investigations he uncovered that four third-party companies were being fed information from the site.

The issue was brought to the intention of MP Tom Watson who wrote a letter to health minister Andrew Lansley stating: “I write to you to express my concern that the NHS is allowing Google, Facebook and others to track your http://www.nhs.uk/ browsing habits, regardless of the fact that people use the page to seek medical advice.”

If a user has signed into Facebook account, they {Facebook} are told every time one of their users has accessed one of the conditions pages on the site, whether or not they have clicked the ‘Like’ button. Analysis sites Google Analytics, WebTrends and addthiscdn.com are also fed information about people who access the site.

The NHS has said the onus is on Facebook users to monitor their own privacy settings. Facebook confirmed they get information about logged-in members who visit the NHS site. If a person is logged into Facebook and 'likes' a page on NHS Choices, the person will be targeted with adverts that are relevant to the page a spokesperson for Facebook said.

There are obviously a number of issues thrown up by this revelation. One is the amount of information being fed to Facebook without their users’ knowledge. Another is why the NHS has a Like button on its Choices website in the first place. And finally even if Facebook has this information, they cannot share it with any third parties without your consent anyway so is there any real harm in it?

Jay4d0

November 25, 2010, 10:44 pm

I think I am right in saying:





Firefox's No Script wins again :D

MrGodfrey

November 25, 2010, 11:06 pm

"even if Facebook has this information, they cannot share it with any third parties without your consent anyway"





Missing some words there... I think you mean they cannot LEGALLY share it. For now. Until they find a suitable loophole.





Mark Zuckerberg thinks privacy is an outdated concept. Having had a movie made about his life already, he probably has his reasons for believing this. Quite why so many normal people are happily going along with the idea is beyond me.

Martin Daler

November 25, 2010, 11:12 pm

please could someone explain what all these little "like" type buttons are about?

Kieran

November 26, 2010, 2:51 am

Trustedreivews has a 'like' button......are you feeding my data back to facebook?

speedyg2012

November 26, 2010, 5:31 am

speedy likes this.





<ok>

Hans Gruber

November 26, 2010, 6:38 am

Firefox, ghostery addon will block tracking. Though once they get really big then who knows what *they* themselves will do with the information?

Powerful

November 26, 2010, 10:52 am

"they {Facebook} are told every time one of their users has accessed one of the conditions pages on the site, whether or not they have clicked the &#8216Like&#8217 button."





Am I understanding this correctly. If you are a Facebook user, Facebook is told what medical conditions you look up on the NHS site whether you click a like button or not?





This is monstrous!

Simon

November 26, 2010, 2:36 pm

Guys, what's the problem? Just trick them into thinking you are a hypochondriac by opened every ailment page on the choices website.

TheFlyingGerbil

November 28, 2010, 3:19 pm

I've been on (non-facebook) web pages before now that have had my facebook profile picture pop up on them, even though I haven't logged in: I find it all very disturbing the was facebook's tentacles are reaching out into the entire web especially since it apparently doesn't even need you choose where it follows you.

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