Over 70% of people have been exposed to medical or health-related misinformation. Of those exposed, almost half are not confident in their ability to discriminate between accurate health information and misinformation. Social media is cited as the most common source of misinformation.
People on the right use social media to purposely hurt family members who lost loved ones to Covid. Sometimes they are censored, but too often, they aren’t, which causes needless pain. As pharma continues to pour money into digital, they need to understand that a lot of what they do is uncontrolled.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. As the CDC extended the mask travel mandate another two weeks, comments on Facebook ranged from the absurd to pure idiocy. One poset said that he had lost his mother and father to Covid, and immediately the trolls weighed in. “Were they vaccinated?”, “Did they have any comorbid conditions?” “It wasn’t Covid! It’s a normal flu virus,” said another.
This is today’s social media. Misinformation and trolls abound on every platform, often repeating FOX news lies.
In reviewing social media topics and comments on specific health conditions for clients, I determined that more than 75% of posts contained wrong or inaccurate information. On lung cancer, I came across people recommending Chinese herbs for patients. One person posted that you should never do any exercise if you have AFIB on AFIB.
We know that people going online for health information is enormous. The CDC has shown that 74% of all U.S. adults use the Internet, and 61% have looked for health or medical information on the Internet. Additionally, 49% have accessed a website that provides information about a specific medical condition or problem.
According to STAT News, “Americans consume an unhealthy diet of health misinformation. Of the sites analyzed by NewsGuard, 11% provide misinformation about health; in other words, more than 1 in 10 news websites accessed by Americans includes bad information about health. NewsGuard uses nine basic journalistic criteria to rate websites — designating either green for being generally reliable or red for being not reliable. Of all the sites with red ratings, 37% publish false or unfounded health claims.”
What has pharma done to address this problem? The answer is barely anything. They have, as a resource, knowledgeable thought leaders but rarely, if ever, ask them to write general health content for their websites because it doesn’t drive brand objectives. This means there is a significant opportunity for pharma to get closer to their audience by helping them understand health problems.
Pharma companies desperately need to ramp up digital marketing personnel and integrate them within brand teams so they can understand all of the brand dynamics. To throw money into digital without having in-house capabilities is like trying to herd cats.