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Facebook, Youtube address ‘miracle cures’

By Katie Ritchie

 

Have you ever been duped by a “miracle cure”?

You wouldn’t be the only one. Phony physicians have promised cure-alls for health problems for hundreds of years.

We’ve all seen a Western where a “medicine man” rides into town with dubious elixirs. He is driven out of town when the citizens realize he’s a quack. The movies don’t usually show it, but the audience can assume he used the same gimmick in the next town.

Social media and modern tech have been a boon for health scammers. Those who want to scam folks with debilitating health issues are everywhere.

Facebook Inc. and Youtube say they’ll protect users. They’re reducing the promotion of posts with bogus health claims.

Scammers across both platforms seemed to target vulnerable people seeking cancer treatment.

Before the changes, misinformation ran rampant. False posts about topics from cancer to vaccines could be found on both platforms.

Youtube will seek the help of medical doctors to identify which posts are harmful. Fumiko Chino, a Duke Cancer Institute oncologist, told the Wall Street Journal that “The granule of truth behind some of these can be very persuasive and can be manipulated by people who are trying to sell.”

This misinformation is dangerous. Last year, a study published in the journal JAMA Oncology found patients who chose alternative treatments over scientifically validated cancer therapies had a higher risk of death.

Remember, Facebook and Youtube aren’t preventing false claims from appearing entirely. This isn’t censorship.

They’re just making sure these posts appear lower in your news feed. They hope to make the misinformation harder to find.