The social media problem for healthcare

SUMMARY: The Facebook whistleblower lawsuit can be summed up in one sentence: Facebook prioritizes engagement above all else because it leads to more profits even if that engagement containing inflammatory information.

Earlier this year, I was asked by a client to write a position paper on using Facebook for the DTC marketing of an oncology product. Mt recommendation was no and was based on the amount of health misinformation I found on the site.

Yesterday 60 Minutes aired a segment from a former Facebook Product Manager who said that Facebook was aware of misinformation but chose to leave it in their algorithms because it led to more engagement. This includes health information as well.

By my estimate, there are thousands of health groups on Facebook. Some are private, requiring users to answer some questions before posting, but a common thread throughout them was the misinformation on treatments and medications.

A year ago, Facebook was making a hard charge to get the pharma business. From my estimates, most of it failed because pharma companies are afraid of misinformation concerning regulations around DTC marketing. Thank God.

The research that seems to be lacking is what online health seekers are doing due to researching online health information on social media. I believe too many are making treatment decisions because they don’t have a close relationship with their doctors; even if one person makes a wrong decision, that is one person too many.

TV will still be the first choice for many DTC marketers, but digital is increasing even though 50% of that money is wasted. According to the Ad Contrarian;

The programmatic ad system is so bizarrely absurd that after years of reports of brand danger, and dozens of companies created to protect brands from online squalor, the same problems still exist. It was reported this week by The Guardian that ads from brands like Nike, Amazon, Honda, Walgreens, eBay, and other substantial advertisers were popping up all over anti-vax sites. Spots for Amazon Pharmacy were found on over 30 health misinformation sites.

Bob Hoffman

When will Facebook be held accountable? When advertisers start withholding ad dollars and demanding change in ALL areas, including healthcare.