Facebook Might Know More About Your Health Than Your Doctor

Nothing you share online is private. There’s information about you stored in databases you may or may not have access to — and you’re the one who agreed to hand it over. That’s what happens when we share every intimate detail of our lives on social media. We agree to never be erased.

Facebook might know more about you than your friends, your doctor, and even yourself. Here’s what it knows about your health — the good, the bad, and the weird.

1. It might know you’re sick before you do

Handsome man

If you’re searching for symptoms, you’re probably being tracked. | iStock.com/rilueda

If you’re like most of us, you’ve typed your unfavorable health symptoms into a search engine at least once. Guess what? Facebook is watching you. And if you’ve ever posed on the platform about your health, that data is stored in the archives just in case you (or others) ever need it.

Next: Not even your grocery list is safe.

2. It knows which foods you shop for

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

If you’ve clicked a Facebook ad, it has a record of it. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Do you shop for food online? Facebook knows. If you haven’t clicked through any Facebook ads to get to virtual stores, the ads have likely found their way into your news feed through an online marketing strategy called retargeting.  The social network keeps tabs on all the ads you have ever clicked on.

Next: It keeps track of the drugs you take.

3. It knows which supplements you’re buying

pills and multivitamins

Trying to stay healthy? Facebook knows all about it. | Valentina_G/iStock/Getty Images

Along those same lines, Facebook also keeps track of other health-related products you’ve shown a particular interest in over the years. If you’ve ever clicked on an ad to learn more about a dietary supplement, for example, that data is part of the many areas of your life you’ve let Facebook in on.

Next: Feeling nervous? Yeah, FB knows that, too.

4. It knows what makes you anxious

Desperate employee

If you’re talking about your anxiety on Facebook, it keeps track of that. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Remember, you’re not just broadcasting your feelings to the people you know. Facebook keeps track of those “feeling anxious” and “#nervous” posts. It might even target specific ads toward people in a perpetual state of neuroticism.

Next: It can sense your mental wellness.

5. It probably knows if you’re depressed

A sad and depressed young man

Your darker thoughts may be used to target specific ads for you. | iStock.com/lolostock

Sometimes, people living with depression don’t even know it — but Facebook might. If you’ve ever told your Facebook friends how you’re feeling, or used specific photos or images to convey those feelings, the social network itself — not just the people who follow you — might have noticed.

Next: Your romantic history might say a lot about you as a person.

6. It knows your entire relationship history

Facebook probably remembers your romantic life better than you do. | iStock

It’s no secret that Facebook tracks all the “life events” you enter into your profile. This includes every time you’ve told your feed about a new flame, a recent breakup, or a surprise engagement. You might want to forget about some of those past relationships, but Facebook never will.

Next: It might be using your personality to influence the way you think.

7. It knows your personality traits

Couple with dog and pizza

Facebook knows your routine better than most of your friends do. | Katie_Martynova/iStock/Getty Images

Are you more likely to take risks than your other Facebook friends? Are you more of an extrovert than an introvert? Do you worry a lot? Facebook has probably already categorized you based on your personality. They use your data to learn a lot more about you and your health behaviors than you’d probably like it to — and that’s pretty terrifying.

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