Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Facebook will now remind you to get health checkups (if you want)

October 29, 2019
Facebook's Preventative Health app
Facebook's Preventative Health appFacebook

The news: Facebook has launched a new preventive health tool that lets US users opt in for reminders to get health checkups, vaccines, and cancer screenings. The initial focus is on heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the US, plus flu. Facebook plans to expand the range of illnesses, and countries, covered. It has partnered with several US health organizations for the launch.

How it will work: People can search for Preventive Health in Facebook’s mobile app to find out which checkups are recommended by the partner organizations, based on that person’s age and sex. For example, women aged 45 to 55 are recommended to get a mammogram every year. Reminders for flu shots will pop up at the appropriate time of the year. Users can use the tool to set reminders for tests, and mark when they are completed.

Some background: This isn’t Facebook’s first foray into health: it has a feature that helps people sign up as blood donors which has been used by more than 50 million people so far, it said. The difference here is the focus on preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

But, but: While the cause is worthy, it involves the most private data being collected by Facebook, a company that has repeatedly been hit by data privacy scandals over the last year. The company says it has introduced extra safeguards for data entered into the app, and won’t show ads based on the data that users provide. However, Facebook is relying on enough people to take it at its word at a time when trust in the company is at rock bottom, especially in the US.

Sign up here for our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.