Facebook updates the algorithm to reduce the scope of sensational health claims

Jul 8, 2019 | | Say something

The health products industry is a giant of the modern economy. People have a genuine desire to improve their health, and many health product manufacturers have marketing campaigns that speak of that desire. Along with the fact that natural supplements are an unregulated industry, consumers are faced with a large amount of information that makes claims about the health benefits of a product. Facebook recently announced an offensive against the content of the platform that makes sensational health claims.


Facebook and its related applications have been criticized in recent months for the amount of erroneous health information that is disseminated on the platform. A substantial number of health claims made on the platform have little evidence to support their alleged benefits, and what is worse, some people on online platforms are promoting dangerous remedies that could seriously harm the people who buy these products or They use the techniques they find online. For example, YouTube was recently criticized for hundreds of videos that promote bleach as a cure for autism.

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To reduce the spread of misleading medical information, Facebook has updated its algorithm to reduce the reach of publications that make sensational health claims. This effort will be directed to marketing for dubious health products and for publications that make exaggerated health claims.

In a publication announcing these updates, Facebook wrote: "In our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of information in News Feed, we consider the ranking changes according to the way they affect people, publishers and our community in general. We know that people do not do it. " We like sensational or unwanted publications, and deceptive health content is particularly bad for our community. Therefore, last month, we made two ranking upgrades to reduce (1) publications with exaggerated or sensational health claims and (2) publications that attempt to sell products or services based on health claims. "

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By attacking the problem from both angles, Facebook should be able to reduce the amount of content posted on its platform that makes sensational health claims. The owners of the pages will see their scope diminish if they publish publications with exaggerated claims, and the product manufacturers will have more difficulties to market the articles that are based on these claims.

However, by not banning such publications and content directly, Facebook has ensured that these deceptive health claims remain on the platform and continue to spread. There are entire groups created around people who share sensational health claims about "the secrets that big pharmaceutical companies do not want me to know."

Most companies will not be affected by this algorithm change by Facebook. However, companies that sell natural health products and supplements should choose their words more carefully. Facebook has not made it clear where the line is in what constitutes a "sensational" health claim. At a minimum, Facebook advertisers should eliminate the term "miraculous cure" from their lexicon. That phrase will always be a red flag for an algorithm to monitor confusing property declarations.

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If your Facebook page related to health sees a decrease in organic reach, it may be the result of this algorithm update. Take a look at its content and see if any health claims deviate into the realm of exaggeration. Once you have removed any sensational health content, the visibility of your publication will return to normal.

The opinions expressed here by the Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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