5 questions to ask before sharing health stories on social media

AHA News: 5 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Health Stories on Social Media

Be careful before sharing health information on social media.

Experts say this is an important step in combating treatment A growing problem as more people turn to social media for news, knowledge and advice on health-related issues.

Due to the spread of misinformation about Covid-19, the US Surgeon General’s Office last year issued an advisory titled “Confronting Health Misinformation.” The 22-page report rewards social media’s “engagement over accuracy” and cites a study that found fake news is 70% more likely to be shared on social media than real stories.

The epidemic has slowed in recent months, but health experts say medical misinformation on social media isn’t going away anytime soon.

To help combat inaccurate information, here are five questions to ask before sharing a health history.

Is the source reliable?

In the age of the Internet, it’s important to do your homework to make sure the original source is trustworthy. But this is more difficult than ever in a web full of unreliable but seemingly official sites.

Lisa Fazio, who studies disinformation, says it’s good to “laterally read” a source, or go off a website and research some information to see what other authoritative sources have to say about it.

“Open a new window and find out what other people are saying about the resource,” says Fazio, associate professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Dr. Joseph Hill, who co-authored the 2019 Editorial Circulation on Combating Medical Misinformation, urges social media users to “know” the message before spreading it. He recommends checking trusted medical sources, such as the Mayo Clinic or the American Heart Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Is it a personal story?

Fazio says social media users have a natural tendency to “cherry pick” personal medical stories that don’t reflect the bigger picture.

“Beware of fairy tales,” she said. “Personal stories are really powerful and persuasive, but they’re often one-time events that don’t tell you how common something is on a public scale.”

“People who are promoting their own businesses and have stomach cramps,” says Hill, MD, a cardiologist and professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “It’s unfortunate, but it happens all the time.”

Does it make me emotional?

The surgeon general’s advice warns against sharing “sensitive information that allows it to spread quickly and go viral”.

“It can mean happiness or disgust or any kind of strong emotion,” Fazio said. “The things that make you feel strong are often things that aren’t completely true.” It’s a sign to think and check the facts.”

Do I really have to post it right away?

Strong emotions can cause a sense of urgency. When this happens, experts say it’s best to pause, take a deep breath and wait a few hours before sharing.

“Waiting even five seconds can help,” says Fazio. “Take time to think about why you’re posting.” To get followers? Is it just to please people?”

In general, Hill said, instead of immediately hitting the “share” button, “it’s better to pause and check what you read. It takes time, but it’s an important step.” Verification may include finding published peer-reviewed research that supports it, or verifying that multiple credible media outlets are reporting the same information.

Could I really be hurting someone?

Although social media can feel like a fun and harmless pastime between friends, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy advised last year that sharing medical misinformation “can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts.” He said.

“The way Algorithms work, the decisions you make can affect many people on the platform, not just a few,” Fazio said. “Before we share something, we ask, ‘Am I improving the experience for everyone?’ We like to think so.”

The hill was more numb. “Medical misinformation costs lives,” he said. “It’s now freely and quickly available, and it’s a new challenge for our species. If we ignore it, we ignore it at our peril.”

This simple method will help stop the spread of misinformation on social media

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Quote5 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Health Stories on Social Media (2022, October 16) October 16, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-health-stories-social-media.html

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