Health information is now on the radar of federal law enforcement.
And it’s being closely watched by those working to protect the privacy of people who use social media.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are actively monitoring social media for data breaches and are seeking to identify any instances of malicious behavior, the DHS said in a statement.
It said that in the past, social media platforms have shared information on breaches with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in a “non-confidential” manner.
DHS added that in some cases, “data collected by social media is shared with law enforcement entities, including federal, state and local government, and other entities to investigate and prosecute criminal or terrorist activity.”
The government is also encouraging people to keep their personal health information private.
The Department of Health and Human Services released guidelines last year for individuals to understand what is required to protect their health information and what is not, according to a department statement.
The guidance states that it’s “premature to share personal health data” with companies that provide the government with data, as well as the government and others.
“The health information collected by these organizations is not shared with anyone else for any purpose, including for criminal investigations,” the guidance states.
The Department of Justice is asking that people take additional precautions.
“While there are no new health threats to the public, we have made it clear that if you have any concerns about your health information being shared, you should take additional steps to ensure that the information you share is not being shared with unauthorized third parties,” the DOJ said in its guidance.
“It is critical to protect people’s privacy and to ensure their ability to exercise their right to privacy,” said Michael T. Smith, assistant attorney general for national security and privacy.
“That is why we are continuing to closely monitor social media, including online platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.”
The FBI is also urging Americans to protect themselves from online threats.
“While social media can be a powerful tool for sharing health information on the internet, it’s not the only tool.
Social media has also come under fire from some of the country’s largest health care providers, who have said that social media information can be shared with the government without their consent.
A federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled last year that companies that collect personal health and medical information from consumers can’t be compelled to share that information.