In the age of social media and the internet, we often come across news and information that has nothing to do with reality. People mostly read the so-called astonishing facts and just hit the share button without giving it a moment of research. Thus, these false-facts become a tool of misinformation.
It might not be very dangerous if a rumor being spread is related to something general like fashion or food, but when it comes to health news, this false information can lead to negative outcomes.
Fake Health News as a Threat
A study was conducted in Medical University of Gdansk in April 2018, with a title “The Spread Of Medical Fake News In Social Media,” to evaluate the major potential hazards of spreading fake health news, especially when presented without any authentic references.
The result indicated that 40% of the most frequently shared links, which were related to common diseases like cancer, stroke, heart attack, hypertension, vaccinations, AIDS and diabetes, and their symptoms and causes of death, were found to contain misinformation.
These links were shared over 450,000 times, potentially leading to people making health choices that could harm them or others.
Consequences of Fallacious Health Content
According to Natalie Gyenes, a researcher for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society At Harvard University, “The most common concerns among health professionals when it comes to misinformation online is compliance with health treatments or prevention efforts.”
The real issue that is highlighted is how the use of misleading information may lead parents to make decisions for their kids that can have deadly consequences for children, such as the anti-vax movement.
In such situations when there is ample content on social media and the internet to mislead the layman, it is our responsibility to do proper research about the authenticity of the information before sharing it.
Moreover, the authorities must take actions against internet mafia generating fake health news by taking strict measures against them by all means.