Fake Health News Can Damage Your Real Health

By Gary Cutlack on at

Research into the weird world of fictional news spread online by bots has found that it could have a negative effect on the health of the more gullible readers, with fake health news and reports suckering some people in with their wicked lies.

This comes from the University of Southern California, which looked into how automated accounts appear to by trying to promote the use of e-cigarettes to quit smoking the fiery originals. The team looked at  2.2 million Twitter posts made about electronic cigarettes over a four-month period, finding that a range of "social bots" were using hashtags to push their ideas and, of course, links to where you can buy vaping products.

Human messages on the subject were more likely to be based around pushing community and lifestyle benefits. The study warns of the dangers of the 24/7 flood of automated postings, saying: "These hashtags also suggest discussions of vaping may occur in an echo chamber on Twitter in which ideas and beliefs are amplified by those in the network, normalising vaping."

Twitter is an unhealthy echo chamber? Who'd have thought it? [USC]