Twitter is partnering with Everyday Health, a publisher that owns various health-related properties, to deliver public-health alerts and sell ad packages for health related topics. You can read more about the program here, which formally launched on Wednesday, June 11th.
Everyday Health can now filter through tweets in the U.S., carefully tracking content that would suggest impending outbreaks in certain regions. Twitter users in that region may receive information about vaccination programs and preventative measures through promoted tweets and hashtag health alerts. Tweets about mental-health issues may be monitored as well.
The program does seem to have its advantages for public health interests. But do people really want to see this information on their Twitter feed?
The fact that Everyday Health can use the program for advertiser-sponsored alerts poses its own issues. For example, the article points to the possibility of a sleep aid manufacturer sponsoring insomnia-related content to Twitter users that are up at 3:30 in the morning. I’m sure these users are aware that it’s past “normal” sleeping hours. If they are true insomniacs, I don’t know that they would necessarily want to be reminded of their problem through an ad on Twitter. Furthermore, I wonder how many people would be targeted with health-related information that simply doesn’t apply. For example, a person who works midnight to 8 a.m., or a student that is pulling an all-nighter would probably be annoyed with targeted ads for insomnia.
I would like to pose the following questions for discussion:
1. Do you think that promoted tweets and hashtag health alerts are helpful for people located in regions with impending outbreaks? Do you think the program could lead to unnecessary, unintended hype?
2. What do you think of Everyday Health’s ability to monitor mental-health issues over Twitter?
3. The article states that that Twitter’s partnership with Everyday Health is similar to those done with companies like ESPN, A&E, Conde Nast and Major League Baseball. Do you think that this holds true, or do different rules apply when dealing with people’s health?