Privacy policies for health social networking sites

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Many individuals now turn to social networking sites to discuss and determine perhaps what may the best physician or plan of treatment for them, however in doing so this creates a potential for privacy risks.[1]


More and more, patients, and providers are turning to social networking for discussion of diseases and possible treatments and in doing so potentially compromising their own health care data. Hospitals are required to provide patients with privacy and must practice HIPPA, when patients however voluntarily post their health information this may have bigger ramifications and consequences.[1]

Privacy Risks

As patients divulge more of their personal information to such networking websites, the repository that contains that information may keep it for the duration of a lifetime. In doing so places the patient at risk for insurance companies, job opportunities, and losing the ability to control whether or not they want that information shared with anyone.[1]

Privacy Policies

Dependent on the site will determine how much is shared and how much is kept private. Patients must restrict based on the privacy settings if they want some of their information protected, however this too posses a problem. Their is no true regulation to set privacy settings in social networking sites as helpful as some may be. This will continue to be a process in which will need to be continuously revisited."A recent survey shows that 58% of social network users restrict access to their profiles and 67% of female profile owners restrict access to friends only compared with 48% of male profile owners."[1]


A vast majority of patients despite them having knowledge of the privacy settings that are available there still in lies the potential of information being shared with third party companies.


Reading this article has not only opened up my eyes but made me realize a truth of what goes out into the internet world can not necessarily be reeled back in very easily. Especially when there are no set policies to protect some of our most treasured information.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Li J, 18 April 2013, Privacy policies for health social networking sites, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,2013;20:704-707;