Social media is a danger to health

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Social media by its very nature is about a personalized – typically non-vetted – spread of information. However, the platforms that enable that flow of data are still owned by profit-minded tech giants. That presents a situation where money can get in the way of facts on some platforms.” The spread of false health information is a threat to our nation’s healthcare.

Social media bots, search engine optimization and the spread of health misinformation have made it more challenging than ever for people to find accurate and helpful information about their health and wellbeing.

According to CNN “nearly two months into the largest vaccine rollout in US history, Instagram continued to prominently feature anti-vaccination accounts in its search results, while Facebook groups railing against vaccines remained easy to find”.

Health misinformation can be an honest mistake. Some people really believe that they have a duty to warn others about what they have found online but when highly educated doctors and PhDs tell us that the Covid vaccine is a necessity to lower Covid death rates we need to listen.

According to an in-depth study “of the 1225 fake news stories analysed, social media accounted for spreading half (619, 50.5%) of the stories about COVID‐19. The other 50% of sources include multiple sources: individuals, Donald Trump, websites and newspaper/website/tabloids.

It’s not just Covid-19 either. I read some of the posts on Facebook groups on AFIB, diabetes, and sexual health and found that they were full of false information and pitches for supplements that are ineffective and could be dangerous.

Pharma has an opportunity to provide accurate and credible health information to online health seekers. Thought leaders should be writing content on pharma websites to answer patient questions and concerns. They should also be warning online health seekers about the dangers of using social media for health information.

DTC marketers need to become online health seekers and take time to try and find answers to health questions to understand the quagmire of the internet. It’s out of control but unfortunately advertisers are not willing to hold social media accountable.