Fact-checking social media

3D render of keys on a computer keyboard with one red key labled for fact checking.

QUICK READ: Twitter has finally decided to fact-check someone who has made over 20,000 false statements but Facebook feels “it’s not their job” to fact check posts. Political claims are one thing but misleading healthcare claims is quite another that could lead to serious consequences.

In my Instagram feed, I am constantly bombarded with ads for supplements that make exaggerated claims on everything from ED to enhanced immune support. The worst offender, by far, is Facebook.

Not too long ago I prepared a report. for a client who wanted to know what some Facebook groups were saying about lung cancer (NSC). There were so many “homemade treatments” and misinformation that my head started to spin. I thought “how many people are using this information to make healthcare treatment decisions?”. Judging from the comments quite a lot.

Twitter’s CEO, yesterday, announced that they would start fact-checking Trump’s posts which, of course, led to rage by Trump. At the same time, Mark Zuckerberg announced that “says private companies shouldn’t be ‘the arbiter of truth”. That is pure bullshit!

Facebook is first and foremost a media company. They make the majority of their money by selling ads. Organic posts, by companies, are dead in the water. How many times has Facebook betrayed the trust of users and lied to us? A lot, yet people are addicted to their Facebook feed.

I use my Facebook feed as a news feed. I follow several news organizations as well as groups that are in line with my hobbies of reading history, cycling, and jazz and audio. When I had a case of shingles two years ago I made the mistake of joining a shingles group. There was so much misinformation about the vaccine and treatments I often commented that the posts were wrong.

It stands to reason that more people are going online for health information. There is no one way in which people search for health information and is contingent upon the health condition being researched. Pharma websites are but a short stop for most online health seekers. Today people trust each other more than advertisers but what about the quacks trying to make money with misinformation?

Pharma, for the most part, has done very little. They could, for example, list a page of reliable health sites but God forbid we drive people away from our site so we’ll just let them use Google.

We, pharma, have a responsibility to patients and caregivers to provide them with easy-to-understand health information and resources for credible health information. If social sites like Facebook won’t do it we need to pick up the Bataan and move it forward.

I salute Twitter for fact-checking a serial liar. Facebook says they don’t have the capacity to fact-check every post but that’s complete garbage. Facebook hasn’t realized that they’re just a mother media site.