It’s been covered as quite an interesting topic how some knowledge which was previously “known” to be certain fact has changed over time and so what we might have previously stated as facts may no longer be facts. That makes for a potential minefield for a phenomenon we’re perhaps already seeing, that of the presentation of what are referred to as “alternative facts.”
Except they’re outright lies, aren’t they?
Now, with the otherwise encouraging ability of anybody with an internet connection to set up a blog or website through which they share their knowledge and information, the implications of being subjected to misleading, inaccurate and sometimes even deliberately incorrect information make for a greater cause for concern, don’t they? I mean a health blogger could very well give accurate information that’s very useful to their readers for about 99 posts straight, but should that not be the case for the 100th post, the likelihood is that their readers will believe that the 100th post is consistent with the preceding 99 posts in the accuracy and value of the information, right?
So, that brings about the question of whether or not you can trust the information you find online. We’re going to be getting a bit more specific about it though and look at health advice, in particular. Can you trust the health advice you find online?
Official regulation and legal implications
For the most part, when it comes to health, the field of medicine is synonymously involved and, as you’ll know, the medical field is justifiably very heavily regulated. That’s why even bloggers who focus on topics such as cooking, as just one angle to health, take extra special care not to present any advice or experiences we share as anything close to being professional medical advice. The same goes for health bloggers who explore sub-topics such as supplementation and exercise equipment safety – there would otherwise be some serious legal implications to have to deal with.
As a result, this ensures that any health advice shared can generally be backed up with some official sources, so it’s not likely that you’d read some life-threatening, ill-health advice online without any signs that it’s bad advice.
As far as it goes with what constitutes good health advice found online, something like some information about the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation program definitely makes for great online health advice, which can be shared by a blogger that has absolutely no background in medicine at all. It’s all about how useful that information is to the right reader, or perhaps to a loved-one of the reader who comes into contact with that advice.
This is one of the ways through which that trust-factor is built-up, but it brings to light one of many mechanisms of what is essentially the self-regulation of the health advice to be found online. Publishers are kept in line by how their readers perceive the information shared, so they need to make sure that it’s accurate and valuable information just to stay relevant.