Internet-based Contact Tracing (using Social Media)


Social media, including hook up apps and dating sites (e.g. Facebook, Tumblr, Tinder, Grinder, BarebackRT etc) is a common way for people to find partners for sex. Health care professionals should routinely ask clients whether they have met partners online.

Contact tracing via social media or the internet is performed when there are no alternative ways to inform partners e.g. they only have a username for the contact which may not be a real name. The same legal constraints around privacy, confidentiality and disclosure apply as for any other method of contact tracing.

When the patient performs contact tracing

Give an example of what the patient could say e.g. “Hi XXXX, something unexpected has happened. Please call me on xxxx when you get this message. I need to talk with you.” This helps make the notification more private than disclosing messages online.

When the provider performs contact tracing

  • obtain the correct identity or profile name (username), location and a detailed profile description
  • refer cases to a local specialist service in your Australian state or territory (see table above) may enhance the outcome and avoid crossing personal and professional boundaries.

National Collaborating Centre for infectious Diseases. Evidence review, New technologies for Partner Notifications for Sexually Transmitted Infections. Canada: NCCID, 2013. [Internet] Accessed 06 September 2021 at

Bernstein KT, Kohn R, Wolf W, Strona FV; Assessing the Added Value of Internet Partner Services For Syphilis and HIV, July 2013 Sexually Transmitted Infections 89(Suppl 1):A40-A40 DOI:10.1136/sextrans-2013-051184.0125