Identifying Credible Sources of Health Information in Social Media: Principles and Attributes
This discussion paper draws upon themes emerging from a March 2021 National Academy of Medicine project, which included the convening of a working group and public discussion sessions/webinars. The project aimed to develop principles for consideration by US-based social media platforms as they seek to identify credible sources of health information in social media to enhance the public’s access to high-quality, evidence-based information during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper outlines themes from some of the project’s convenings, including takeaways from the NAM webinar “Defining the Authority of Online Providers of Health Information”, themes received during a public comment period, and results from a scan of existing models for evaluating source credibility. The principles recommended to guide the identification of credible sources of health information include that the sources are science-based, objective, and transparent and accountable. Ongoing research should be conducted by social media platforms on this topic, alongside a commitment to transparency, continuous quality improvement, and sustained collaboration with scientific, health, and ethical communities to ensure effectiveness and accountability in their approaches. Organizations that leverage social media platforms to share health information should assess the use of these principles to inform their own approaches.
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