The Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, And Medical Misinformation Online – Jarastyle Teen’s

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Health-related information and misinformation spread like wildfires online. And even wildfires are no longer free from conspiracies… however,  we’ll circle back to that later. 

The Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, and Medical Misinformation Online

A concerning trend has emerged online where health and wellness influencers are using AI tools such as ChatGPT to create their social media content. Specifically their captions and reel scripts. This reliance has accidentally led to the proliferation of inaccurate and misleading health claims and information, thus raising concerns centered around the accuracy of social media health advice. 

A great example of this growing problem was addressed in a recent study named “The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Writing Scientific Review Articles.” The study underscored the limitations of AI when it comes to producing factually accurate and trustworthy health-related content. 

The Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, and Medical Misinformation OnlineThe Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, and Medical Misinformation Online

This research also shows that despite ChatGPT’s advanced features and language abilities it more often than not generated medical information that is not only hard to understand and incorrect, but also riddled with fake references and plagiarism. 

This discovery is particularly alarming, especially when we consider that medical misinformation grew to new extremes during the pandemic without the use of AI, and now it seems to be doubling down. 

“The study compared three approaches: human only, AI only, and a combination of both. Results showed AI reduced writing time but required more fact-checking due to a high rate of inaccuracies and potential plagiarism. AI-only drafts had up to 70% inaccurate references. The study concluded that while AI can expedite the writing process, it necessitates careful human oversight to ensure accuracy and originality in scientific writing.”

Health and wellness influencers such as Exhiled Medic and Epssievoke, boasting 862K and 950K followers on Instagram respectively, have been identified as key players in this misinformation spiral. By using ChatGPT to script their content, they unknowingly contribute to the spread of health myths and inaccuracies. Because of their substantial following the impact of this misinformation is not trivial; it can shape public understanding and decisions that are health-related, often with detrimental effects.

Another example is a recent analysis of TikTok and Instagram posts dating from 2022 to 20223 that was undertaken by the Washington Post and a nonprofit The Examination. 

The study found that big food, including supplement companies and popular drinks companies, paid over a dozen influencers who were registered dietitians to promote content surrounding sugar, supplements, and diet sodas that reached millions of viewers worldwide. These influencers shared questionable claims such as “everything is a chemical” when asked why they’re promoting ultra-processed products by their audiences. And their relationship with big food was seldom made clear to their followers. 

The Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, And Medical Misinformation Online - Jarastyle Teen's

The Surprising Connection Between Health Influencers, AI, And Medical Misinformation Online - Jarastyle Teen's

However, the spread of medical misinformation online pre-dates the launch and adoption of ChatGPT. Influencers leveraged their large online followings to disseminate controversial and damn right erroneous medical advice in the middle of the pandemic, with many prominent figures making the famous “disinformation dozen” list. 

One example involved a health and wellness content creator who used Instagram to share content under the guise of promoting an individualized approach to healthcare, where all outcomes are personal choices. Although this content sounds harmless at first, the online communities used this messaging to push medical distrust, with influencers seen selling print-on-demand merch with slogans such as “Big Pharma Lies”.

One of the key players mentioned in the disinformation dozen is none other than Democratic presidential candidate Rober F. Kennery Jr., who rose to popularity and fostered incredible social media community growth during the height of the pandemic. In his recent TV appearances, he insists that he’s a firm believer in medical science and consensus, yet that was not the case a couple of years ago. 

Robert is also associated with popular far-right influencers such as Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and Michael Flynn. This can be somewhat confusing for his presidential campaign, seeing as he portrays himself as a Democrat and wants to continue his family’s blue legacy.

What’s even more surprising is that when you explore this issue further you’ll find that health and wellness influencers don’t only promote misinformation in their niches, but they’re also diverging into other topics such as climate change misinformation. 

After all, these content creators offer their audience a fine balance of so-called “individualism” and government distrust, presenting their personal opinions on issues that are collective problems while sabotaging scientific and political consensus that’s aimed at fostering solutions to man-made climate change. 

This crazy shift shows that these creators aren’t scared of discussing other topics with their audiences and are even willing to knowingly spread falsehoods in order to grow their accounts and engagement. And there’s no clearer example of this than the spread of dangerous propaganda during the Hawaii 2023 wildfires as influencers flocked to their accounts.

Health content creator @truth_crunchy_mama told her 30,000-plus followers to “stop blaming things on nature that were actually caused by the government. They’re going to keep setting wildfires until we all submit to their climate change agenda.”

Health influencer and key player of the famously coined “disinformation dozen” @drmercola presented to his 500,000 followers that the fires might have been deliberately set to “allow a land grab” that would then be turned into a “smart city”.

A mom influencer, whose Instagram account is loaded with images of herself against cute pastel backdrops, suggested to her 70,000-strong audience that Hawaii’s wildfires were initiated by “directed energy weapons”.

All of these content creators fall within the health and wellness niche, a broad umbrella term for accounts that share a wide range of lifestyle-related content, from yoga to alternative health, and everything in between.

Lastly, a study that looked at the amount of misinformation on Twitter from 2006 to 2017 analyzed the data and found that posts that share misinformation and inaccurate claims are over 70% more likely to have users engage meaning that the content is spread “further, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth” across all verticals. 

The viral spread of inaccurate content online becomes concerning once we realize that even a nursery student sees approximately 70 media transmissions per day. And by the time that student makes their way to high school, they spend well over half of their day online doom-scrolling.

It’s for this reason that the a need for more moderation and end-users’ capacity to critically think when online consuming health and wellness-related content. Influencers and creators within this niche strive to come across as relatable and authentic, as sources of inspiration for their audience, however, they can accidentally or purposefully spread falsehood thus impacting their audience’s behavior and overall perceptions.

According to Science Direct; “Establishing a WHOOne Health approach is crucial. Mitigation frameworks can reduce potential sources of stigma, with public figures and the medical community playing a vital role in reassuring and communicating guidelines. Developing effective techniques to tackle misinformation on social media is essential, using empirical approaches and theories to explore algorithms, antecedents, and attributes. Inputs from such research can aid in crafting persuasive and factual health-related messages, offering cautionary advice, and improving public health communication.”


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