di , 16/01/2024

In an era where information is readily available at our fingertips, the quest for health-related knowledge often leads individuals to the vast realm of Social Media Platforms (SMPs). Recognizing the impact these platforms can have on shaping public understanding of health matters, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has put forth essential principles and attributes in their paper titled “Identifying Credible Sources of Health Information in Social Media: Principles and Attributes.“, published in 2021 but still valid.

The paper addresses the challenges associated with discerning credible health information online, acknowledging the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation, the influence of personal beliefs, and the pivotal role played by content recommendation algorithms. To counteract these challenges, the authors emphasize the importance of transparency, continuous quality improvement, and collaboration with scientific, health, and ethical communities.

Trasparency in policies and processes

Transparency stands out as a cornerstone of responsible social media practices. Social Media Platforms are urged to be transparent about their content moderation policies, algorithms, and processes for identifying credible health information sources. This transparency not only fosters user understanding of information curation but also nurtures trust in the platform.

Evaluate content quality

The paper emphasizes continuous quality improvement as another crucial aspect. It encourages SMPs to regularly evaluate and enhance their methods for identifying credible health information sources. This involves establishing review mechanisms, monitoring the impact of shared health information, and incorporating user feedback to refine credibility criteria.

A collaborative way of working

Collaboration with scientific, health, and ethical communities emerges as a key strategy to boost the credibility of health information on social media. Engaging in partnerships with experts from these fields provides valuable insights and guidance, steering Social Media Platforms toward best practices in evaluating health information and identifying trustworthy sources.

Which criteria to use

The paper advocates for the use of comprehensive criteria in evaluating health information. SMPs should consider factors such as source expertise, evidence-based content, verification processes, and adherence to ethical guidelines. By employing a robust set of criteria, SMPs can effectively identify sources that provide accurate and reliable health information.

Health literacy and accessibility

Accessibility is a principle that underscores the importance of making credible health information available to all users, including those with limited health literacy or from marginalized communities. Social Media Platforms are urged to present information in a clear and understandable manner, addressing potential biases or misinformation that may disproportionately affect certain groups.

By adhering to these principles, SMPs can play a pivotal role in supporting the dissemination of credible health information. The implementation of the suggested guidance can empower users to make informed decisions, enhance health literacy, and contribute to improved public health outcomes.

The paper reminds social media platforms of their responsibility to prevent misinformation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It emphasizes the potential consequences and urges Social Media Platforms to take proactive steps in providing accurate health information, fostering responsible sharing, and contributing to global well-being.