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Facebook junks project to collect patients’ health data: Report

Facebook has reportedly suspended a research project where the social media giant was in touch with several major US hospitals

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Facebook's CEO also vowed to fight fake news. Pixabay
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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, Facebook has reportedly suspended a research project where the social media giant was in touch with several major US hospitals to collect data about their patients.

According to a report in CNBC late Thursday, Facebook aimed to build profiles of patients and help the hospitals, including Stanford Medical School and American College of Cardiology, figure out which patients may need special care or treatment.

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Facebook is accused of leaking data to Cambridge Analytica.

“This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analysed anyone’s data,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.

A Facebook statement said: “Last year Facebook began discussions with leading medical institutions to explore whether scientific research using anonymised Facebook data could help the medical community advance our understanding in this area.

“The project could have raised new concerns about the massive amount of data Facebook collects about its users, and how this data can be used in ways users never expected.”

Facebook, however, told The Verge that the patient data would instead be used more generally. “The project would not attempt to provide health recommendations for specific people. Instead, the focus would be on producing general insights that would help medical professionals take social connectedness into account as they develop treatment or intervention programmes for their patients,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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Facebook is dumping projects to make amends. VOA

Facebook has admitted that information of up to 87 million people, mostly in the US, may have been improperly shared with the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Private data of over 5.6 lakh Indian Facebook users was also compromised by a private marketing firm that later sold the personal details acquired through a quiz app to Cambridge Analytica.

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Facebook: WhatsApp Business App Has Over 3mn Users

WhatsApp Business app has over 3mn users: Facebook

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WhatsApp Business app has over 3mn users
WhatsApp Business app has over 3mn users. Pixabay

Over 3 million people are actively using WhatsApp Business app, says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

He said this during the social media giant’s Q1 2018 earnings call, the VentureBeat reported late on Wednesday.

WhatsApp Business, a standalone app separate from the other version of WhatsApp used by 1.5 billion people, was launched in January for Android users in six countries including India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Britain and the US.

WhatsApp Business competes with services like Apple’s Business Chat and RCS messaging for Android and Facebook’s own Messenger Platform, chat apps all built around connecting businesses with customers.

While WhatsApp Business is still being rolled out, conversational commerce through things like payments on Messenger will also be important to the social media giant, the report said.

The Facebook's image.
Facebook. Pixabay

“Over the next five years we’re focused on building out the business ecosystems around our apps like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger,” Zuckerberg said.

“I think what you’re going to start to see are people interacting with Pages that you follow, Pages on Facebook or Instagram.

“You see content from that Page, and you can click through to a message thread, and then you can either get customer support or complete a transaction or do a follow-on transaction, and that will be very valuable for businesses so we view the payment in that context, not as the goal but as something that’s helping the business and the person succeed at having a transaction or doing what they’re trying to do,” Zuckerberg noted.

Also Read: This creepy app uses WhatsApp data to let users ‘spy’

WhatsApp Business, available on Google Play Store, makes it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for its users to chat with businesses that matter to them.

The new app, which is yet to come on Apple App Store in India, asks for a separate phone number from the one users have for their individual WhatsApp account.  IANS

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