INTRODUCTION: In contrast to Internet search engines, social media on the Internet such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. reach a large number of people, who are ready to help answering questions. This type of information aggregation has been dubbed "crowdsourcing" i.e. outsourcing a task to a large group of people or community (a crowd) through an open call. Our aim was to explore whether laypersons via Facebook friends could crowd source their way to a medical diagnosis based on a brief medical history, posted as a status update on Facebook. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The participants posted a brief case story on their Facebook profile and asked their »Facebook friends" to come up with possible diagnoses. RESULTS: The correct diagnosis was suggested in five of the six case stories, and the correct diagnosis was made after a median of ten minutes. The quality of the responses varied from relevant differential diagnoses to very silly diagnostic suggestions. CONCLUSION: Based on this study, we believe that laypersons can use his or her »Facebook friends" to identify the need to see a doctor for their symptoms rather than relying on them to give them a specific diagnosis for their symptoms.
Ugeskrift for Laeger, 2011, Vol 173, Issue 49, p. 3174-3177