17 November 2010

Study Urges - Beware of Facebook for Diabetes Info

Social media is good for distribution information. This study indicates that this can be dangerous as well. It raises valid concerns about the accuracy on these sites. It is this type of information that causes concerns for doctors and helps them doubt all information from the internet.

I personally stay away from Facebook because I know that there is bad information especially from advertisers promoting their “cures” which are false and more dangerous than helpful. This study just confirms that about 25 percent of the information is not what many people need.

The researchers examined 15 of the largest Facebook communities about diabetes and discovered that one in four comments on these sites were promotional in nature. This means that people are advertising products that are not approved by FDA. This says that a quarter of the people on these sites are most likely non-diabetic and are there to make sales.

Another area of concern are the number of surveys, marketing, and efforts to get people for clinical trials where the identity of the poster was unknown or even remotely discernable. These people prey on the people desperate for information and line their pockets with their schemes.

Now I understand why doctors may not like you getting your information from the internet. They are aware that often people are not as discriminating as they should be in what they select to read. This is why I have a list of sites I visit regularly to give the doctor. This does not always please him, but he finally did ask that I send him the list in an email. Now we are able to talk about things and he is not as likely to tune me out. I also send a list of questions and which site generated them.

I agree with the results of the study concluding that there is often much good on some of the sites, but little control in the advertising and promotional position of the site. This is why I also warn you to fact check the information and be prepared to discard the misinformation.

This is also why I recommend sites that are monitored to prevent promotional advertising and that monitor the site for misinformation, correcting it or giving warnings to information that misses the mark. Some diabetes forums are excellent and provide a safe place to ask questions and guard their members from unsafe practices. From the information in the study and from talking to friends about their experiences on Facebook I do feel safe in urging people to check out the diabetes forums and sites I have listed here.

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