Warning: *privacy not included with this product
If you've been online lately, chances are you've seen or heard one of the many ads Talkspace runs all over the place -- in podcasts, on TV, on streaming services, on Facebook -- featuring celebrities such as Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato. Talkspace offers users access to online therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy, and psychiatric services. According to Talkspace, it's as easy as taking a brief assessment, picking a provider, and then starting therapy. According to reviews left on the Google and Apple app store pages, it's not nearly so easy as that. Reports of long wait times to be matched with a therapist that fits your needs, unresponsive therapists, and even people reporting being ghosted by their therapist seem to be common enough to raise concern. According to Talkspace, feeling better starts with a single message...here's hoping the 2020 report of mining those messages with your therapist for your data have sorted themselves out. Yes, we found Talkspace does raise a number of privacy concerns.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Tips to protect yourself
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, address, date of birth, phone number, gender, email, relationship status, employer (sometimes), insurance information
Audio/video, medical information (includes your medical history, diagnoses, treatments, current medical condition, and use of prescription medications).
Information on friends you refer, on your partner (if you use couples therapy)
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
TheNew York Times reported in 2020 that former employees and therapists at Talkspace told The New York Times that anonymized conversations between medical professionals and their clients were regularly reviewed by the company so that they could mine them for information. Two former employees told the Times that Talkspace data scientists mine client transcripts and share common phrases with the company's marketing team to better attract potential customers. Talkspace's founders disputed some of the NY Times' findings.
In 2020, TechCrunch reported a security researcher tried to reach out to Talkspace to report a bug he found and the company responded by threatening to sue the security researcher.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Talkspace has two different privacy documents written in complicated language.
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Matching Algorithm. During onboarding we ask you to provide information so that we can assess your condition and incorporate your preferences. We then leverage a proprietary algorithm (and/or support from a Talkspace consultant) to match you to a provider.
Optimizing Diagnosis and Treatment. Throughout your experience, your provider uses the Talkspace Services to manage your diagnosis and treatment plan. The advanced machine learning features of our proprietary Services include natural language processing of communications with therapists. A core focus of our machine learning strategy is to provide the therapist with insights on patient needs and behaviours and offer techniques and suggestions that we believe are likely to maximize clinical outcomes.
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Matching you with a healthcare provider.
Provide therapists with insights on patient needs and behaviours and offer techniques and suggestions.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
At Talkspace, Start-Up Culture Collides With Mental Health ConcernsNY Times
Talkspace Founders Respond to a New York Times Article.Medium
Mental health apps draw wave of new users as experts call for more oversightCNBC
Mental Health Apps Aren't All As Private As You May ThinkConsumer Reports
Talkspace threatened to sue a security researcher over a bug reportTech Crunch
How a dead veteran became the face of a therapy app's Instagram adMashable
The Therapy-App FantasyThe Cut
The Spooky, Loosely Regulated World of Online TherapyJezebel
Dramatic growth in mental-health apps has created a risky industryThe Economist
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