The online junk information grows, but so we shall

Internet

(John Schnobrich, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Muhsin Öznaneci, a 4th grade Medical Student in Istanbul Medeniyet University, which is based in Istanbul Turkey. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Before I finish this sentence, there will be 3,8 million Google quotes will be searched,87.500 tweets will be on Twitter and 4,5 million view will happen in YouTube (1). Yes, that is the info load and it just enlarges within the life and the internet.

Until 20 years earlier, reaching to medical information was limited there weren’t that much information at the public press except the health pages on newsletters and magazines. Medical books were not in common use or easily accessible, so people had to rely on the medical professionals much more than today.

But with the eruption of the Modern Internet and Social Media, a new source has born and started to expand in an uncontrolled way, like a tumor. In beginning we did not give that much value but then people started to get their info from there and started to apply with their own diagnosis by what they have read from the internet, we have said: “That may be a thing to consider.”

Let’s think that a woman whose children suffers from fever (38° C) for 3 days and let’s say that the children is a bit sweating. When you write to Google fever and sweating, you will start to see links about leukemias in popular sites or every Facebook Mom group will start to talk about that it could be leukemia and the mom will come to you in panic and agitation obviously. But then you take History and do P&E, he/she only has a lung infection. If you are lucky, the mom will understand you and will say thank you and go. But if she is not convinced, the process may go harder, and it will probably cost more time and money to her.

Now medical information is much easier to find and to read. But there is a point, is the info, right? As medical professionals we know where I shall get the info and how to use and evaluate it, but the people do not. That’s why we must guide them to accredited websites gives the info plain, true and basic. If there isn’t any, we must make up a website or info source.

Usually the most doctors have a curious or negative perspective against social media because we always learn to value, and respect privacy and Social Media may be the most not-private platform to write. But from Social Media, the junk info can spread fast and start to hit on the face.

Most of the Anti-Vaccine movements organize in Facebook and yet the company made steps to stop the spreading of the misinformation (2) they continue to organize again and again. So, us medical professionals must take steps, to make deliberate effort and much more time to produce content for people in social media and must manage it professionally so we can reach to the masses. But while we do that, we must stick to the ethics. Luckily, we have a guide for that (3).

To be sum up, the online world grows up fast and we have been a bit behind. But we still have the chance to catch up and be a trustful source to our patients. So we must evolve, but still preserve the spirit of being a doctor.

References

1. https://twitter.com/lorilewis/status/1103687442727616523

2. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/07/facebook-anti-vaxx-vaccine-hoax-ads

3. https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/doctors-use-of-social-media/doctors-use-of-social-media

About the author

Muhsin Öznaneci is a 4th grade Medical Student in Istanbul Medeniyet University, which is based in Istanbul Turkey. Currently, he is interested in issues of Anti-Vaccination, Artificial Intelligence and Gender Issues. He was part of the Projects Support National Division Team in Turkish Medical Students International Committee(TurkMSIC) and also had other responsibilities in IFMSA. He also has another article in also European Sting about SDG 3,you can check it out.

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