What happens when popularity decides what gets top billing on search and social algorithms? When it comes to health information, the results can be tragic. I wrote about keyword voids, recommendations, and paid promotion of misinformation in .
When I was at Google I called this the "evil unicorn problem" (because there's not much content for evil unicorns, but you can still search for that), but "keyword voids" is much more evocative. An important piece by
#VaccinesWork to protect kids. The Vitamin K shot at birth protects newborns. Health #fakenews can be deadly. Unfortunately, it’s pervasive online
Since Stop Mandatory Vaccination, FB antivax groups, & troubling search results are in the news because of the measles outbreaks, I want to bump this article I wrote to connect the dots on why algorithms & social media fail us on health information
This article from covers the issue of getting good health info when there's a "data void" or "search void" using "vitamin k shot" as an example, where a site advising against this for newborns ranks tops. Here's how Google addresses such things.
“There’s an asymmetry of passion at work. Which is to say, there’s very little counter-content to surface because it simply doesn’t occur to regular people (or, in this case, actual medical experts) that there’s a need to produce counter-content.”
And here is the Wired article by that I mentioned: . New term I like: "data void" - a situation where searching for answers about a keyword returns content produced by a niche group with a particular agenda.
The “data void”: When searching for answers returns content produced by a niche group with a particular agenda — before the sound science. Via
The most shared articles about vitamin K on Facebook are anti-vax, and the CrowdTangle analytics platform shows those articles are reaching an audience of millions.
The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice [The "asymmetry of passion" that skews web search results toward extreme (and sometimes deadly) views] | Renee DiResta
Great little piece on how "asymmetries of passion" make for polluted search results
"..How do we incorporate factual accuracy into rankings when no one is willing to be the “arbiter of truth.” Unfortunately, the answer is not easily Googled." The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice
Here's where we are now: data void gaming Review manipulation to bump their books & movies to the top of Amazon search results. Facebook proactively recommending Groups run by ppl who also pay for Ads claiming vaccines cause SIDS:
I wrote this article last year. It explains the the issues with reco engines, search data voids, and asymmetry of passion behind the antivax movement on social media. I wrote it after bad advice in a Group killed a baby. This misinformation kills.
“Will the tech platforms...begin to understand that giving legitimacy to health misinformation via high search & social rankings is profoundly harmful? Getting high-quality, fact-based health information shouldn’t be dependent on the outcome of SEO games”
“Getting high-quality, fact-based health information shouldn’t be dependent on the outcome of SEO games, or on who has more resources for pay-to-play content promotion.”
passion asymmetry >> The complexity of simply searching for medical advice, by
ICYMI: What happens when the truth falls toward the bottom of search results? How the anti-vaccine movt used a "data void" to inject itself into the top results: #vaccineswork
The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice via
Will tech platform begin to understand that giving legitimacy to health misinformation via high search and social rankings is profoundly harmful?