The health sec­tion ap­proved by doc­tors

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Health - By Bar­ney Cal­man HEALTH ED­I­TOR

ELEC­TION fix­ing, per­sonal data theft and in­cite­ment of ha­tred: evils, un­doubt­edly, all linked to fake news and their sources.

Com­pared to these, are crack­pot health claims made on­line such a prob­lem? We be­lieve they are. The in­ter­net is an in­valu­able tool for find­ing out med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

But there is a high chance that, while in­no­cently Googling a symp­tom or health con­cern, we’ll end up be­ing given dan­ger­ously mislead­ing ad­vice.

And this ad­vice could lead to life-or-death de­ci­sions be­ing made. So, it is not an over­state­ment to say that those who spread mis­in­for­ma­tion and false­hoods about health have blood on their hands.

More needs to be done to weed them out and ex­pose the lies they ped­dle. This is why, to­day, The Mail on Sun­day launches a cru­cial new cam­paign to Fight Fake Health News. Over the com­ing weeks and months, we will be delv­ing deeper into the med­i­cal fak­ery in cir­cu­la­tion while pro­vid­ing you, our read­ers, with the facts.

This news­pa­per is com­mit­ted to ev­i­dence-based health in­for­ma­tion. So from to­day, in a na­tional news­pa­per first, all our sto­ries will be re­viewed and ap­proved by a med­i­cal doc­tor.

You can trust what you read in these pages. But at present, there is al­most no way to tell whether health news on­line is real or fake. Some so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies now let users flag up sto­ries they be­lieve are false.

These com­pa­nies also en­list po­lit­i­cal fact-check­ers who can slap a warn­ing on pages that con­tain dis­puted in­for­ma­tion.

But they don’t em­ploy health spe­cial­ists. This needs to change.

Tech com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google need to ac­knowl­edge their part in the prob­lem of fake health news – so they can be­come part of the so­lu­tion.

And if you are cre­at­ing fake health news, be warned: we are watch­ing.

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