Nautilus

The Problem with Using the Term “Fake News” in Medicine

While misinformation can sway elections and threaten public institutions, medical falsehoods can threaten people’s health, or even their lives.Photograph by Ugo Cutilli / Flickr

Here’s one way to rid society of “fake news”—abandon the term altogether.

That’s what a U.K. committee that Parliament do last fall. It argued that the concept has lost any clear meaning, since it has been used to describe everything from genuine error to frank duplicity, or even just to slander. It’s an important point to make, in an era when our sprawling connectivity abets the spread of ever more misinformation. As a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated in a landmark published last year in , falsehoods shared on social media tend to spread much further, and faster, than

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