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Facebook reduces sensational health claims in your News Feed

Bogus cures and treatments won't get prominent placement.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 2, 2019
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Facebook knows junk health claims are a problem, and it has quietly taken action to keep them out of sight. The internet giant has revealed that it changed the News Feed ranking in June to reduce the priority of posts that either make "exaggerated or sensational" health claims or try to sell products and services based on health claims. You should see fewer attempts to pitch miracle cures, diet pills or other treatments that don't pass scientific muster.

The strategy is much like the one Facebook uses to curb clickbait. The social network looks for common phrases in these bogus health posts and uses those to predict the likelihood that a post is leading people astray. If there's a close fit, that post is less likely to show up in your News Feed.

Although Facebook is only discussing the update now, there's a certain amount of urgency to it. People in private Facebook groups have been circulating a myth that bleach would 'cure' autism in children -- it was not only a falsehood, but genuinely dangerous. A crackdown like this could prevent serious harm and keep Facebook out of (further) trouble.

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