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Nov 14, 2016 06:48 AM EST

Warning to Facebook Users: The Most Popular Health News Spreading in the Social Media are the Most Misleading Ones

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Facebook users are warned about sharing and believing the health news spreading around because not all of them are accurate, particularly the ones that are the most popular.
(Photo : Credit: Omar Havana / Stringer)

Online fake news, and hoaxes are just spreading around in the Internet and in social media and they are unstoppable. This is especially true when it comes to some of the health news being posted on Facebook.

This is alarming because according to a study by the scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Tulane University School of Medicine, the misleading health news, specifically about the Zika virus, that are posted on Facebook are the ones that are the most popular.

Just last May and June of this year, Zika has known to have spread in many countries including US, and researchers found that 4 out 5 Facebook posts actually contain correct and accurate information. However, what's frightening is the fact that the ones containing conspiracy theories were the ones that had the most number of shares, likes and comments.

"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," the researchers wrote

According to Dr. Megha Sharma, a neonatal-perinatal medicine fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, "What was most disturbing to me was the websites or videos that are giving this misinformation are trying to take the focus completely away from the issue".

She also said that those misleading and inaccurate posts may just make people neglect the accurate news that are coming from the most credible sources like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

At present, it would be hard for Facebook to combat the misinformation because there's hardly any way for them to check if the source of the information is credible.

"We propose that a strict criterion be used in screening posts pertaining to health crises and pandemics," Sharma said. "It is vital for public health authorities to monitor the spread of misleading information that creates panic during these times."

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