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Misinformation as a Misunderstood Challenge to Public Health

      The concept of misinformation as a problem appears prominently in recent academic literature and public discourse, as researchers have raised concerns about the spread of inaccurate information online, decision making based on problematic information, and even the acceptance of medical conspiracy theories.
      • Chou W-YS
      • Oh A
      • Klein WMP
      Addressing health-related misinformation on social media.
      • Oliver JE
      • Wood T
      Medical conspiracy theories and health behaviors in the United States.
      • Vosoughi S
      • Roy D
      • Aral S
      The spread of true and false news online.
      Misinformation is false or inaccurate information regardless of intentional authorship, and yet much discussion about misinformation has focused on malicious acts to infect social media platforms with false information. Worries about blatantly “fake” information imply an active and strategic presentation of falsehoods that threaten to have dramatic effects on public health. Such popular emphasis on examples of explicitly fake content, however understandable, nonetheless subtly directs attention away from core systemic challenges that public health and medical professionals face in protecting and improving population health through the communication and dissemination of accurate information.
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