Today, the Internet offers a wealth of information on various platforms. We're bombarded with news and information all the time. All it takes is a little research to come across thousands of articles dealing with a topic of interest.
But beware! The information available on the Internet is often inaccurate or even wrong, especially when it comes to health advice. So how do you sort out the real from the fake?
The definition of “fake news”
Fake news is information that is either distorted, altered, incomplete or fabricated—in other words, totally false. However, it is disguised to resemble real news to confuse people.
There are many reasons why some people create fake news. Sometimes it's to get clicks or shares on social networks, generate sales, or simply enjoy misleading people.
Be careful when you browse online
Many people search online for symptoms to find out what they're suffering from. But that can be dangerous. It's important to know that a lot of health content on the web or social media is incomplete, inaccurate or completely false. Be vigilant and keep a critical eye on online information, as it could have serious consequences for your health.
Finding relevant and accurate information
A few tips can help you weed out the good information from the bad, especially regarding advice on your health.
When checking out an article, first verify the source, i.e. the website on which it appears. It's a good idea to determine what type of site it is (company, organization, media outlet, blog, etc.) and its true motivations. A little research will tell you more about the seriousness of the information disclosed on this site.
Look at the author's name at the bottom or top of the article that caught your eye. You're entitled to ask yourself whether the author exists. Are they credible? Do they work for a well-known, professional organization? Are they “just” a blogger or influencer? Obtaining this information will tell you how reliable the author’s content is.
It's important to pay attention to the sources, i.e. the information that supports the claims made in the article. First of all, check whether the sources are actually cited. If so, determine their reliability by verifying whether they are really related to the article and if the links lead to the right place. This way, you can be sure of the quality of the information.
The article's date can help you determine the credibility of the information. An article published several years ago probably contains no longer relevant information today, whereas a recent article is more likely to be relevant.
Take the time to read all the content carefully, not just the headlines that grab your attention. Catchy headlines are written to elicit reactions and emotions and, unfortunately, are likely to convey false information. As you read the text, you'll see more clearly whether the information makes sense.
In sum, following reliable and recognized media or institutions is advisable to ensure you receive credible and true information.
The healthcare professional
When in doubt, the most reliable resource for treatment or advice is your healthcare professional. If you have obtained online information, check it with them. They will be able to provide you with the right information and debunk the myths with you. After all, they are the expert!
Instead of taking risks, make sure you have the right information before you attempt or share anything. That way, your family and loved ones will feel reassured. After all, we're talking about your health! Happy surfing!
Text written in collaboration with Vie de Grands-Parents