Spotting fake health-related news

In the past, it used to be co-workers gossiping around in the kitchen spreading inaccurate health claims but nowadays things have amplified by the Internet.

To turn specifically to health, fake medical news and misleading health information is everywhere online, posing risks to public health and causing problems for healthcare professionals.

Fake news is usually presented as ‘clear’ and short messages that people can read quickly and easily believe. In contrast, real health news can be complex and sometimes difficult for people to digest.

You might think it’s easy to identify fake health news but let us give you a few examples:

Vaccines cause autism

Vaccines

https://www.instagram.com/vaccinesuncovered/

 

At a first glance, you would think an account that has over 49 thousand followers should be legitimate. This account shares videos from self-claimed ‘professionals,’ ‘researchers’ and articles that seem factual.
A few weeks ago, Instagram blocked hashtags that were used to spread fake news about vaccinations such as #vaccinescauseautism. However, there are many anti-vaccine accounts (just like the one above) that continue to spread misinformation.

There are no MRI scans in the Gaza Strip

nomrimachines

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/gazan-women-are-no-longer-able-to-enter-israel-for-cancer-treatment

 

Who would ever think an article in the New Yorker would contain fake news? In the summer of 2018, a New Yorker article had twice claimed that there are no MRI scanners in the Gaza Strip, either in public or private hospitals.

Although the text is now amended, the article was shared thousands of times all over the internet with misleading content. Meanwhile, the MRI Department at the European Gaza Hospital had publicly posted a Facebook update in April 2018 that they received a new MRI system.

Dandelion weed kills 98% of cancer cells

One of the main reasons fake health news go viral is because they give hope and promise ‘easy’ or miracle solutions to health problems.

In 2016, the ‘’Dandelion weed can boost your immune system and cure cancer’’ article was shared 1.4 million times on Facebook. Although dandelion has many health benefits, the problem is that there are no results to confirm it cures cancer.

 

When reading health-related articles online we would suggest looking for more than one source, research the same claims or statistics in a different trustworthy source and get a second opinion.

Even the most credible information online can be harmful in the absence of a doctor’s diagnosis. If you have questions about our MRI scanners, please just get in touch and we will get back to you with all the accurate information.