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Last Week Online #28 – Do you want Google to use your health data for prediction?

Anna Loverus
Anna Loverus
3 min read

You might not care about what’s in your medical records. But do you mind if Google do?

Google and the University of Chicago sued after sharing identifiable patient data

The University of Chicago Medical Center and Google were sued after the hospital supposedly shared hundreds of thousands of patients’ records with Google without sufficient anonymisation of data. This raises questions around technology companies being poorly suited to handle health data as they enter into one of AIs most promising — and most lucrative — areas: diagnosing medical problems.

In 2017, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Google announced a partnership to share patient data. At the time, Google said in a blog post that it was ready to start “accurately predicting medical events — such as whether patients will be hospitalised, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating.” The company also said it would use “de-identified medical records” from Chicago that would be “stripped of any personally identifiable information.”

However, the potential class-action lawsuit insists that the company failed with the de-identification. “In reality, these records were not sufficiently anonymised and put the patients’ privacy at grave risk,” the lawsuit claims. For example, the university included timestamps and doctors notes with the data it shared, information that could potentially be used to identify individuals.

Twitter introduces warning labels to deal with world leaders breaking their harassment or abuse policies

Twitter will hide messages from major political figures behind a warning label if they break the company’s rules for harassment or abuse. But, they will not take the tweets down, the company announced on Thursday. This is a move that could worsen the debate over political bias on the platform.

The warning labels will tell viewers that the hidden tweet breaks Twitter’s rules against harassment and violent threats, but Twitter users will be able to click through the warning to see the message.

“The labelled messages will not be removed from the service, because they are a matter of public interest,” Twitter said in a blog post announcing the warning labels. “There are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.”

The news comes at a time where many tech companies, Facebook and Google (YouTube) included, are struggling to find a balance between free speech and their policies against hateful and offensive content.

Knitting platform bans pro-Trump content, creates a firestorm among knitters

The favourite knitting and crocheting platform Ravelry decided to ban content supporting President Trump in a stand against white supremacy. The new policy includes all content on the site, including both knitting patterns and forum posts. In a statement explaining the decision, the website said: “We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy, and support of the Trump administration undeniably supports for white supremacy.”

However, Ravelry still welcomes Republicans and people with conservative political views. “You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here,” the statement said, adding that “hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.”

After the announcement, reactions have come from all corners of the knitting world – a diverse group of people. Some angrily condemned the policy as liberal bias and pledged to delete their accounts, while others said they had “never been prouder to be part of this community.”

Inspiration to the ban is, according to Ravelry, a similar policy at the gaming site RPG.net who established its own ban against Trump support in October 2018.

Tool of the week: Flick

Hashtags are one of the ugliest inventions online. Still, they serve a purpose, becoming the standard way to categorise content online on more and more platforms. Hunting for the right #, to find your perfect audience, is an increasing part of content creators workdays.

Flick is a search engine for #. And before you think, “oh no, not another hashtag search engine”. I’d just want to say that Flick is a lot better than the other ones I’ve tried.

The secret behind hashtags is to find # as big as possible, but just small enough for your content to appear in the top grid. And Flick allows you to search for # with posts in the right span of likes and comments. Smart and simple. As it should be.

Last Week Online

Anna Loverus Twitter

Thinker and doer. Loves running, wine, and human behaviour.


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