Facebook's Preventive Health Tool Could Change How You Use The App

Courtesy of Facebook

By the time you become an adult and are fully responsible for your own well-being, you might be so busy that it's difficult to keep track of your health. It gets even more complicated as you grow older, when you're expected to schedule medical screenings that you might not even be aware of or understand. Facebook's new Preventive Health tool aims to solve this exact pain point — and it might just change the way you interact with your account.

According to a Facebook press release, the Preventive Health tool helps you connect to health resources and keep track of your own checkups, though it doesn't ever get access to your test results. For now, most of its suggestions focus specifically on preventing cancer, heart disease, and the flu. And it bases its suggestions off of your age and sex, which you determine in your personal info section on Facebook (though it also offers the option for you to change that info in the tool, as well).

The specificity of suggested health care locations will depend on whether or not you have location services turned on or off for your account, according to Facebook. If you do have it turned on, then Facebook's Preventive Health can offer info about Federally Qualified Health Centers that are near you and offer the suggested screenings.

And if you don't want to give Facebook your exact location, then the feature will just give you information on health-related locations for the city you say you live in.

Courtesy of Facebook

Receiving reminders about what types of medical screenings and checkups you should be scheduling is always a good idea — but you might also be concerned about what this means for your Facebook privacy, and for data collection.

According to Facebook, the Preventive Health tool uses your profile to access information on your age and sex, and collects other particular bits of info as you plug them in. "To help you keep track of your checkups, we collect information you provide, such as when you set reminders or mark a screening as done," Facebook's page on the Preventive Health tool and privacy reads. "We also log more general activity, like frequency of clicks for a specific button, which allows us to understand how the tool is being used, in order to improve it over time."

In the press release, Facebook maintains that it does not share ads based upon any information that you give to the Preventive Health tool, but that other medically-related actions you take on Facebook could lead to ad-sharing. For example, if you like the page of a health organization on Facebook, or if you visit a website linked to Preventive Health. Again, Facebook will never receive access to your health results, regardless of whether you made a reminder for an appointment or screening through Preventive Health.

Courtesy of Facebook

Of course, this doesn't mean that you won't have to keep track of your own health yourself. You'll just have an additional tool to help you. And if you want to know more about the types of medical tests you might want to be thinking about, you can read this article on the seven medical tests every woman should get before they turn 30.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the information Facebook stores. It has been updated to include the correct information.