Cremesp and MS are engaged in fighting false news
Do vaccines cause autism? Does cell phone use in the dark cause eye cancer? Can miracle foods cure cancer? These and other issues related to diseases or public health have been circulating in social networks, causing many doubts in the population. These are the so-called fake news, which is freely distributed every day. This “news” is not authored and is not generated by secure sources such as Research Institutes or Government Agencies. But do you, as a doctor, know that you can make a decisive contribution to ending this kind of “misinformation” so harmful to the community?
Concerned with this theme, the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of São Paulo (Cremesp) launched this week a alert for doctors and health professionals to help combat this false news. "It is therefore crucial that doctors be aware of their role in society and use this status to stimulate, share and replicate, for example, official campaigns on vaccination and elimination of mosquito outbreaks," says an excerpt from the material released by Advice.
The content reinforces the importance of a campaign organized by the Ministry of Health (MS), which now provides a number of WhatsApp specifically for receiving complaints related to fake news about Health. But this is not a SAC or location to answer users' questions. O informative Health Without Fake News, published on the Ministry's official website, guarantees that the space will be exclusive to receive viral information, which will be cleared by the technical areas and officially answered if it is true or false. Incidentally, the questions exposed at the beginning of this text were taken from this Portal, which indicates, by means of a "peck", that all are "Fake News".
So through this Whats number, any citizen can send free picture or text messages they have received on social networks to confirm that the information is correct before continuing to share. The number is (61) 99289-4640.
Specifically, the theme came to light for the harm that this type of misinformation about Public Health has caused in the community. The material released by Cremesp recalls that the main target of these fake news has been vaccines. “Most worryingly, the fact that the general population - and not just the share influenced by misinformation - could be harmed by such 'activism', as those who do not get vaccinated become reservoirs of infectious agents and transmitters to vulnerable individuals. Misinformation about vaccines, therefore, may undermine the so-called 'herd immunity' principle, obtained when a sufficient portion of the population is vaccinated, so that the virus can no longer circulate in the population, protecting even unvaccinated ones. ”
According to Cremesp, in addition to legislative actions, social networking platforms could monitor the presence of robots in the dissemination of fake news, making explicit the responsible for them. “The same networks can also be used as an opportunity to correct rumors and spread true knowledge. For example, algorithms could be created that give the user the option to see 'stories related' to the subject to which they were exposed, bringing information verified by the scientific community and avoiding aggressive censorship practices. ”
The largest Medical Council in the country, with more than 140 1,000 active associate professionals, also considered that health institutions should also actively combat misinformation. “It takes intense effort to understand the nature of the problem, what are the real agents behind it, and the widespread false content. (…) A good example was the recent MS campaign, which sought to sensitize individuals influenced by false news about vaccines, spread on the networks, putting them in contact with a person with polio sequelae, who contracted the disease because it was not. vaccinated. ”
According to the federal government's publication, “It is also important that doctors and other health professionals actively participate in the fight against false news. Cremesp advocates caution at the individual level in the replication of social media content by medical professionals and encourages them to be agents in initiatives to refute health rumors. When faced with misinformation, it is up to these professionals to report it to the platform, and can contribute to the correct counterpoint, for example, through comments. Studies point out that this initiative can be as effective as strategies like the 'related stories' adopted by platforms. ”
Cremesp considers that “it is well known that false information is harder to counter as time goes on, because as it is replicated and disseminated it tends to 'crystallize' as if it were true. Interventions to combat it must therefore be fast and dynamic, able to adapt to the speed of social networks. Partnerships with the platforms are necessary, but they must overcome the distrust they present in the political context by stripping off any bias other than the technical and scientific criteria. ”
Among the final messages, the statement issued by the São Paulo Council recommends: “We propose, therefore, the strengthening of initiatives by institutions and authorities that oppose the false news, always prioritizing a curation of excellence of the content they disseminate, always guided by technical and scientific ”.