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Social networks are changing the face of online health information…
Consumers and healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and specialized networks for health information.
These social networks can benefit patients and their caregivers in providing:
- specialized knowledge from peers
- positive self-image reinforcement
- mobilized community
- accessibility and convenience
- improved outcomes
There are also risks involved:
- privacy issues
- lack of transparency of advertisers
- security issues
Evaluating social networks requires additional evaluation criteria
Evaluation criteria include the previous five (sponsorship, disclaimer, currency, verifiability, audience) plus:
- Ease of use: Images, icons and other visual elements can be used to facilitate learning. Navigation and next steps should be intuitive.
- Checks on quality of content: Links to an outside organization should be on the home page. Specific information about numbers or credentials of moderators should be readily available.
- Transparency of ads: There should be a clear distinction between advertising and editorial content.
- Member control of information sharing: Users should be able to restrict access or sharing of information to community members