Is Facebook The Right Place For Diabetics? Facebook has over 800 million registered users, and is an important online meeting place for social networkers. These 400 millions users come together to share information, sometimes on unrelated topics, whether it be about their personal stance, opinions, photos, or even videos. Diabetic specific groups have formed on Facebook, representing important sources of information, support, and engagement for patients with chronic disease. However, is Facebook the correct place to house these Diabetic groups? Shouldn’t diabetic sufferers come together on diabetes specific social networking sites? Relatively little research has been completed on Facebook to explore the information that patients request, the unsolicited information that is provided, or the real reasons why these diabetic communities exist on Facebook. Beyond a low level of screening for offensive posts, there aren’t any editorial monitors or fact-checkers on Facebook.

Diabetic organisations heavily promote their products on Facebook, an unregulated environment. The majority of promotional posts on Facebook promoted dietary supplements and other natural cures for diabetes. Practitioners and patients are unaware of the information exchanged by diabetic organisations is accurate or whether patients received advice to engage in potentially harmful activities.

Accordingly, on diabetic specific social networking sites, where real diabetic patients are communicating with other diabetic patients, on a personal basis, without the influence of companies wanting to heavily promote their products.

Many users are sharing information regarding their concerns about possible adverse effects of medications and diet supplements in attempts to see if their own experiences correlated with that of others. For instance: long-acting insulin glargine therapy drew several responses claiming adverse effects such as severe weight gain, mood swings and body aches, were all common themes when it comes to information sharing on diabetic social networking sites. However, most information shared on social networking sites include other sensitive information on diabetic management that would unlikely be revealed to doctors. Why?

The idea of community support validates heavily promoted information by large organization. Patients gain interpersonal and community support from wall posts and discussion threads, they access forums of specialized knowledge on diabetes management from peers, and can articulate positive but realistic self images as diabetic individuals and a mobilized diabetic community.

Facebook provides a platform for many people sharing information on various topics but is not the right option for patients with diabetes, as there are no streams of accountability or authenticity checks. Patients, family members and friends should be using diabetic specific social networking sites, to share information, to request disease specific guidance and feedback, and to receive emotional support, without the heavy influence of organizational promotional activities.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Dornan is a passionate IT executive, who suffers from a condition, saw there was more that could be done to connect patients, created that intends to globally connect and help people., a health based social networking site, helps people suffering from a variety of health conditions, to globally connect, help and share information with others in similar situations, by focusing on bridging the gap of patient-to-patient communication, and patient-to-practitioner communication, with all the social networking features and functionality expected in today’s society.

Social Medicine fosters community support, where real people in similar situations come together, to circumvent negative feelings like disconnection and loneliness, and focus on improving self-esteem, understanding, communication, relationships, and peer support.