Where does Big Pharma find Big Numbers of sick customers?
Easy: in the same places where YOU find lots of “friends”.
Facebook, or any other ad-driven social network of course, can help drug companies to target only the users most likely to need the specific drugs they want to sell.
And it can do it with high accuracy. Not enough to get sued, but high enough to be troubling, as this report shows. Here is how high, to prove why you should read the full article for details:
- the authors found dozens of ads for prescription pharmaceuticals targeted at people with “interests” in topics like “bourbon” or “oxygen”
- more specifically, “awareness” of diseases like ovarian cancer, multiple sclerosis, bipolar depression, chronic bronchitis and many more… was +“a frequent proxy for illness in targeting decisions made by advertisers”_
- in 2019, researchers were able to predict whether a Facebook user had any of 21 health conditions through language in status updates alone
Why this is troubling? Easy
All this is bad and troubling in many ways. Some are really easy to avoid, unless one is really clueless of course:
“If a work colleague walks by your computer screen and sees a targeted ad for a lung cancer drug, for example, he or she could deduce you have the condition.”
The really troubling part is that these practices are nothing else but ” targeting and exploiting people who are in this vulnerable state and who have found real benefit from online patient communities”.
And it is even more troubling when one remembers how often those vulnerable people are made even more vulnerable not by their own fragility, but by their own “FRIENDS”.