By: Stacy A. Wein, Health Sciences Librarian, Copley Hospital
“Fake news” is fast becoming the latest “buzz” phrase. But, what does it actually mean? Printing and handing out fake news is not new. As far back as the turn of the century the term “false news” was being used. The term defines news that is often sensational and is disseminated under the guise of news reporting. Real news explains and offers evidence or sources of information being presented.
With social media platforms and other modern communication channels and devices, fake news and misleading information is quickly passed around. “Gone viral” is often heard when a story, discovery, photo or comment on Google gets passed around at lightning speed. And here is the problem – the content, fact or fiction, has been sensationalized. No one has taken the time to find out if it is factual before passing the story on.
How does this affect our health? When misleading information is taken for fact, it becomes misinformation. Patients may be influenced or confused by misleading research reports. They may not be unable to understand the difference between an advertisement for a drug that is an honest, evidence-based claim or one that makes false and misleading claims about the product. This affects the patient or consumer’s ability to make safe decisions concerning their health and may lead to unsatisfactory health consequences and loss of trust.
It is important to know how you can evaluate the credibility of online information and what you may read or hear. The National Library of Medicine offers tools to help you evaluate online information. MedlinePlus provides a tutorial on how to evaluate online health information. You can click here or you can use the search box on the MedlinePlus homepage; just type “Evaluating Online Health Information” in the search box.
Copley’s Health Sciences Library serves both Copley’s Medical Staff and our community by providing customized health information searches through a variety of print and online resources. We invite you to browse through our library yourself (computers are provided for your convenience) or check out a book from our Consumer Health collection.
Here are additional resources:
- Trust It or Trash It tool http://www.trustortrash.org
- The News Literacy Project: thenewsliteracyproject.org
- Fun games to test your “News Knowledge” https://newslit.org/get-smart/
- 10 Questions for FAKE News Detection: checkology.org
- Learn how to evaluate prescription drug ads:
For more information why this is a “GOOD” health advertisement go to https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm082284.htm
For more information about why this is a “bad” health advertisement, go to https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm082282.htm.
For reference questions or help locating reliable resources, call the Health Sciences Library at 888-8347 or e-mail our librarian at firstname.lastname@example.org.