We all know Facebook can track our location, see our Nearby Friends and such. All that can and is being used to help COVID-19 researchers.
COVID-19 is not fully understood by the world, and for that reason a lot of people are scared simply because we don’t know enough about it to combat it as effectively as we’d all like to. Facebook is helping researchers by giving them Facebook data to understand users’ movement patterns, hotspots for the virus, to figure out what exactly is helping the virus spread.
The company will also prompt users to participate in a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University to self-report any symptoms they might be having. We all were wary of how Facebook handles our data, but this time it’s being used to help strengthen the fight against COVID-19. The responses to this survey, which are kept completely anonymous, could tell researchers where the virus is receding, or where it’s heavily increasing, and all sorts of important data.
As we all fully understand, people’s movement habits have changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as countless amounts of people are working at home instead of driving to work and working in the office, people have stopped going out as frequently, and some note at all if not for supermarket runs.
This research can help healthcare professionals preempt any situations that may arise in the future, or if anything, learn from the high volume of cases from certain times and places.
“We think that Facebook and the wider technology industry can and really must continue to find innovative ways to help health experts and authorities respond to the crisis. But we don’t think that these efforts have to compromise people’s privacy. We think we can assist in the public health response while also continuing to protect people’s data.”
-Steve Satterfield, Director of Privacy and Public Policy at Facebook.
Our efforts must always be to stay at home as much as possible, and only go out when absolutely necessary. Social distancing in these times are critical, and until the world figures out and controls this situation, everyone on Earth needs to work together as a team, from multi-billion corporations to the people in government, to the average Joe and the average Jane.
Do you agree with Facebook using user data to help researchers of COVID-19? Or do you think that information should be kept private no matter what?