Opinion: Facebook, Thanks For Letting Me Help Drug Companies

Those real-life quizzes at Facebook are a marketing ploy. The answers are helping drug makers have information from the nine million people that have signed up and quickly clicked along the test. I am one of the sheep in the masses.
The quiz has 150 or so questions that cover lifestyle and family history to give users a “biological age.” The RealAge people then offer users ways of getting the biological age younger by suggesting multivitamins, eating breakfast and flossing their teeth.

The quiz even has a huge endorsement from Dr. Mehmet Oz, a popular author and regular on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Guess who funds RealAge? Those crafty pharmaceutical companies pay the marketing company to send them the answers in an email.

That’s right kiddies, we’re all part of a marketing scheme that is helping the drug companies target the public.

But is that really so bad?

The bottom line is the quiz can give people a free way to learn how to improve their lives.

The New York Times reports:

“Our primary product is an e-mail newsletter series focused on the undiagnosed at-risk patient, so we know the risk factors if someone is prehypertensive, or for osteoarthritis,” said Andy Mikulak, the vice president for marketing at RealAge. “At the end of the day, if you want to reach males over 60 that are high blood pressure sufferers in northwest Buffalo with under $50,000 household income that also have a high risk of diabetes, you could,” he said.

The drug companies aren’t getting personal information from those who take the quiz. RealAge is the middleman. That means that drug companies are getting unbiased information.

That’s not a bad thing. Seriously, is it wrong for the drug companies to want to know the marketing information? We’re not being paid by them but we do need their knowledge when we’re sick.

Medcity.com reports that some health groups are not pleased with RealAge.

Peter Lurie, deputy director of the Health Research Group at consumer advocate Public Citizen has a problem with the way RealAge could use its patrons’ medical information.

“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up” for the RealAge newsletter, Lurie said. RealAge “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis,” he told the Times.

In the end it’s a personal opinion. If you don’t want your information and thoughts given to companies by marketers don’t take online quizzes. No one is twisting your arm to click their button. You have the power to keep the marketing companies in business or not.

Welcome to the age of the Internet!

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