Facebook combats ‘miracle cures’ and other misleading health claims

Facebook and YouTube are working to reduce fake health news on their apps. 

SOPA Images/ Techhnews

If you spend more than a few moments on social media, you’ll probably come across an advertisement for a diet pill or an article that says something like “pharmacists hate him” that touts a miracle cure for something. Facebook is trying a new treatment for clickbait health news with its latest ranking changes.

“We know that people don’t like posts that are sensational or spammy, and misleading health content is particularly bad for our community,” Travis Yeh, Facebook’s product manager, said in a blog post Tuesday. 

Facebook said it plans two updates to reduce the fake health news. First, it will consider whether a post is making an exaggeration or is overtly misleading, and second, it will consider if the post promotes a product or service based on the false claim. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to request for further comment.

YouTube is experiencing similar issues, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, and the company has been cutting off advertising for phony cancer treatment channels.

In an email, YouTube said it’s working on addressing misinformation on medical topics.

“Our systems are not perfect, but we’ve seen progress within this space and have seen that general results about cancer treatments include videos from authoritative sources, usually at the top,” a YouTube spokesperson said. 

Originally published July 2 at 9:36 a.m. PT.
Update, at 10:16 a.m. PT: Adds statement from YouTube.

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