POLITICANS are using the social media platform Facebook to spread cancer news, a research paper published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found.
In a study of more than 200,000 Facebook posts from June 2015 to June 2017, researchers found that of those posts that had been approved by users, 60 per cent had been posted by politicians.
The authors of the study, led by Professor Simon Cairns, from the Institute of Public Health, say the information being disseminated on Facebook could potentially lead to misinformation and bias.
“It’s important to know that there is an enormous amount of misinformation and it’s possible to have a negative effect on the health of Australians,” Professor Cairnes said.
“And the social sharing that we’re seeing is happening through social media, not through direct messaging, not via email.”
The researchers looked at whether there was any influence on Facebook posts by politicians, or whether they were being shared by friends or family members.
Dr Simon Cairs, from IRH, says politicians and their families are increasingly using Facebook to share information about cancer.
“We found that there was no difference in how much cancer information was being shared when politicians were using social sharing or direct messaging compared to when they were not,” he said.
This could have been because they were using it as an extension of their political activities.
“But if they were also sharing information in ways that were not the same, then it could potentially be that the information they were sharing was misleading or misleading in some way,” he added.
The study also found that the number of posts by members of the public and the number shared by people in close contact with the individuals posting the information had similar trends.
Professor Cairs said politicians were not always using the same tactics.
“Some of the posts that we found that we saw from a politician were very specific and very specific about a specific person and that could be potentially misleading, for example the type of cancer that that person was diagnosed with, so you might see the specific diagnosis,” he explained.
“Or there might be a particular person, the type that was involved in a particular event, and that person might share information that is more broadly applicable to other people.”
The authors say it is likely that many of these posts are also being shared through Facebook, and it could be that there are no laws against political posts on the site.
“In a democracy, if you are using Facebook, you are participating in the democratic process,” Dr Cairs explained.