Study shows that the most viral health stories are the least credible!

Study shows that the most viral health stories are the least credible!

The study found that while there are a lot of credible health news on social media, hoaxes and conspiracy theories are viewed and shared the most

For a lot of people, the internet is their main source of information, however a recent study has shown that a lot of the popular stories about health being shared on social media might be the least accurate.

It all started with the Zika virus

Scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Tulane University School of Medicine conducted a study examining how news about the Zika virus gets shared on Facebook.

According to Dr. Megha Sharma, the lead researcher, “I was taken aback by the misconceptions about Zika virus that I saw among the parents of the neonates I cared for. Most mothers thought that microcephaly caused by the Zika virus was a a hoax and was actually caused by pesticide contamination from the industry who were trying to hide the spill by making up a Zika narrative.”

The most popular stories were inaccurate

Photo from: wikimedia commons

Photo from: wikimedia commons

The study found that 81% of the top 200 videos and posts about Zika were accurate and came from credible sources. 12% of the most popular posts however, were misleading ones; like a theory claiming that Zika was a way to depopulate third-world countries.

Interestingly, they found that the least accurate stories were the most ones that had the most shares and views.

The most popular of the credible posts, a video of a WHO press briefing, was viewed 43,000 times and was shared 964 times. On the other hand, the most popular of the inaccurate posts, a post claiming that Zika was a “fraudulent medical hoax” was viewed 530,000 times and shared by more than 19,600 people.

According to the researchers, “It is interesting that the misguided video posts about Zika virus were far more popular than the posts dispersing accurate public health information about the disease.”

Go to the next page to learn more about knowing the credibility of online sources!

How can I tell if the news article I’m reading is credible?

With the prevalence of hoaxes as well as sites promoting supposedly “genuine” stories, it can get pretty hard to know which news stories are real and which ones are fake.

That’s why it’s very important to be more discerning when it comes to the stories that we read online, especially if they’re about your health. Here are a some things that you should always keep in mind

  • Can you trust the website that showed the news story? If the news comes from a reputable source, such as a government health agency, it’s accurate information. If it comes from a blog or a news site that doesn’t provide any credible sources, then it’s best to steer clear of that site.
  • Does it sound reasonable? If it sounds too good to be true, or if it makes fantastic claims about a certain product or service, then it’s probably fake.
  • Is the information up-to-date? If you see that the story was published years ago, then it might be inaccurate. It’s best to only trust news stories that have been made recently.
  • Do they have a source? Is it backed up by a reliable scientific study? Many fake sites share stories without providing a credible source or study to back up their claims. If a news article doesn’t have any sources, then it’s probably fake.
  • What was the site created for? If a site that has a certain news story is trying to sell you something, then it’s most probably fake news. It’s important to know the site’s purpose since some people create fake news as a means of making money online.

READ: 7 Myths doctors can’t believe parents still believe

Sources: huffingtonpost.com, cbsnews.com, nncih.nih.gov

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