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Spreading Health (Mis)Information Through Twitter

A study shows how Twitter users may be giving misinformed advice on antibiotics to other users on Twitter.

Naresh Kumar
Naresh Kumar on April 9, 2010.

A report published in the American Journal of Infection Control has found that Twitter can be an effective tool for spreading misinformation about antibiotics. The study, carried out by researchers from Columbia University and MixedInk reviewed Twitter status updates of users and explored the evidence of misunderstanding or misuse of antibiotics. Some of the popular categories of Twitter status updates as grouped by the research team were medical advice or information given to other Twitter users and updates about side effects or negative reactions of medications.

The study shows the careless tendency of web surfers and specifically Twitter users to ask for advice on medications and antibiotics on the Internet.

The research concludes that while social networking sites offer a medium to share health information, further study needs to be done to explore how they can be used to provide valid information, gather real time health data and identify misuse of antibiotics.

AJIC

[via Ars Technica]

Image by Luc Legay

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