CBS Local — According to multiple reports, Facebook sent a doctor to several U.S. hospitals in the hopes of persuading them to share patient data with the social media giant.
The data sharing project was reportedly devised by Facebook’s secretive research department known as Building 8. The project planned to collect personal details, including illness and prescription records, which would be then matched up with user information on the social network. Facebook allegedly created the proposal to help hospitals determine which patients may be in need of specialized care.
Facebook had reportedly gotten as far as enlisting its scientists to talk to major organizations like the American College of Cardiology and the Stanford University School of Medicine about the project. But the dream—for the moment—is no more.
“This work has not progressed past the planning phase, and we have not received, shared, or analyzed anyone’s data,” Facebook said in a statement, obtained by The Independent.
The reports that Facebook was interested in acquiring medical information come just days after Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer admitted that most of the platform’s 2.2 billion users have likely had their personal information harvested by third parties. “We believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” Schroepfer said in a blog post.
The company has been dealing with the online privacy scandal since it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica mined the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users before the 2016 presidential race. Zuckerberg has been called to testify before Congress on April 11 to address the growing revelations.