Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

‘But I Saw It on Facebook’: Hoaxes Are Making Doctors’ Jobs Harder

The New York Times – Without the support of social platforms, our efforts to stamp out viral misinformation feel futile. “…Websites spreading health hoaxes on Facebook peaked at an estimated 460 million views on the platform in April 2020, according to the report, just as the virus was spreading around the world and overwhelming hospitals in New York City. Facebook claims to assess and add warning labels to factually incorrect posts; but in a subset of posts analyzed by Avaaz, only 16 percent of those containing health misinformation had a warning label. Facebook’s algorithm rewards and encourages engagement with content that provokes strong emotions, which is exactly the kind of content we warn patients to doubt and carefully assess, since false information is often packaged as novel and sensational. The report’s title calls Facebook’s algorithm “A Major Threat to Public Healthsomething our clinical and research experiences amply confirm. Public health organizations have been unable to keep up with the deluge of sophisticated medical myths and pseudoscience shared on Facebook. Despite the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, content from the top 10 health misinformation sites received four times as many Facebook views as content from the C.D.C., W.H.O. and eight other leading health institutions during April 2020…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.