Health Editor’s Note: We have been hit hard with health and medical disinformation during 2019. Social media has played a very large part in this craziness. Singing the praises of “cures” that do not exist is an extreme disservice to mankind.
Here is one example: Imagine that you have been diagnosed with cancer and are offered the treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation oncology, drug therapies, biological therapies, etc. that currently have been researched and researched some more, used in trials, altered to be more effective, proven to kill cancers, but also come with side effects that will make you feel like “hell has entered your life.” Despite efforts of medicine to mitigate these side effects, and they are fairly successful in some areas, you will not feel like your usual self during treatments to remove cancer from your body and your life. Now imagine you have read/heard where you can simply drink apple cider vinegar, supposedly changing the pH of your body and that alone will kill the cancer that you have. You are led to believe that everyone is doing it. Well, vinegar, a “cure” that will not stop the growth of cancer cells but would certainly be immensely less invasive and probably not make you nauseated, tired to your bones, etc. Hey, you might be tempted to go with the “cure” that will in reality not cure you but will help you to imagine that you are doing the best thing you can do to deal with your cancer diagnosis. This is NOT a joke! The consequences of believing medical and health misinformation can very well result in death!…..Carol
Social media hosted a lot of fake health news this year.
by Brandy Zadrozny/NBC News
A cabal of doctors are hiding the cure for cancer, berries are more effective than vaccines, and eating instant noodles can kill you: These are some of the claims from the internet’s most viral fake health news in 2019.
Health misinformation was a big deal this year. Facing pressure from lawmakers, doctors and health advocates, social media platforms made sweeping policy changes to ban or limit the spread of false health information that had gone unchecked for over a decade.
To get a sense of the landscape of fake health news this year, NBC News compiled a list of the most viral health misinformation and analyzed the data to see where it spread and how people engaged with it.
The most viral pieces of fake health news pushed far-reaching conspiracies between governments and medical communities and suggested ditching common medical treatment of life-threatening diseases for unproven cures. The top 50 articles garnered more than 12 million shares, comments and reactions this year, mostly on Facebook.