Disease is now transmitted via Facebook statuses and Google results

“Misinfodemics” are a threat to public health. Learn why journalists, scientists and tech companies need to work to stop its spread.

 

How Misinfodemics Spread Disease
The Atlantic
By Nat Gyenes and Xiao Mina
Aug. 30, 2018

Misinformation on social media has helped increase the spread of disease and sickness, as seen in the outbreaks of Ebola, measles and tooth decay. Gyenes and Mina trace the origin of today’s distrust in modern medicine to an article published with financial conflicts of interest, unethical data collection and fraud proving that just one viral article can have a wide-reaching effect on society.

Google and Facebook have recognized the issue and added new technologies to stop this epidemic. Google’s search engine now prioritizes trustworthiness and expertise. Facebook is working on a feature that provides more context to shared articles. And initiatives such as the Credibility Coalition and The Trust Project are developing online tools to help the problem.

But the article argues that scientists need to do more to fight against misinformation by collecting more data, publishing more papers and using language that is more accessible to the populations they’re trying to target.