Despite best public health efforts, misinformation about health can spread wildly — often faster than factual information. It is a problem public health both recognizes and is struggling near-constantly to combat.

In a study published March 9 in Science, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that, at least on Twitter, “Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information,” especially for stories that were political in nature.

It makes sense. People are more likely to trust a friend or family member who shares something on Facebook than a stranger. But there are no laws or regulations that require items posted online or on social media be true.

That is why the relationships health providers and community health workers have with individuals and communities have never been more important, said Barbara Glickstein, MPH, RN, MS, director of communications for media projects at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at the George Washington University’s School of Nursing.

To continue reading this story from the July 2018 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.