Breaking News
June 22, 2018 - AAA doses first patients in two clinical studies with PSMA-R2 for prostate cancer
June 22, 2018 - Pelvic pain a major issue for women nearing mid-life, research reveals
June 22, 2018 - Researchers develop reliable DNA barcodes for biomedical research
June 22, 2018 - New risk-prediction model may help identify diabetic patients at high risk of pancreatic cancer
June 22, 2018 - Study reveals how mTORC1-driven changes in crowding could influence major diseases
June 22, 2018 - Researchers uncover new therapeutic opportunity in the treatment of malignant melanoma
June 22, 2018 - UC Riverside researcher receives grants to advance cancer, ALS research
June 22, 2018 - Radiation therapy alone may be enough to treat older, sicker patients with anal cancers
June 22, 2018 - Technical report describes how to make accurate particle size measurements on carbon black samples
June 22, 2018 - Nocdurna (desmopressin acetate) Approved by FDA as First Sublingual Tablet to Treat Nocturia due to Nocturnal Polyuria
June 22, 2018 - Neuroscientists locate neurons in the brain that respond when a visual target is found
June 22, 2018 - First human Keystone virus infection reported
June 22, 2018 - New study reveals how ‘good’ bacteria help in regulating our metabolism
June 22, 2018 - Osteopathic manual therapy affecting the diaphragm improves chronic low back pain
June 22, 2018 - Researchers create revolutionary model to study pulmonary diseases
June 22, 2018 - Diagnosing Heart Disease Using AI
June 22, 2018 - Increasing biodefense risks posed by synthetic biology
June 22, 2018 - Many Women Report Vasomotor Symptoms in Their 60s
June 22, 2018 - Rare mutation of gene carried by Quebec family gives insight into how the brain is wired
June 22, 2018 - Chemists find new way to make enzymes do a non-natural reaction
June 22, 2018 - Summer is good time to check for signs of skin cancer
June 22, 2018 - Innovative method can help identify patients with spastic cerebral palsy
June 22, 2018 - Exercise alters characteristics of blood to reduce inflammation in obese people
June 22, 2018 - Researchers examine complications across different types of breast reconstructive surgeries
June 22, 2018 - Rhesus macaque model could be useful to test therapies for congenital Zika virus syndrome
June 22, 2018 - AHA: New Insights Into Sickle Cell and Stroke Risk
June 22, 2018 - Doctors prescribe opioids at high rates to those at increased overdose risk
June 22, 2018 - Reduction in US cigarette smoking rates
June 22, 2018 - Preconception binge drinking may have negative effect on future offspring
June 22, 2018 - FDA expands approval of novel diabetes management device to include younger pediatric patients
June 22, 2018 - Researchers confirm weight loss benefits of the 16:8 diet
June 22, 2018 - FDA approves Eversense CGM system for use in adults with diabetes
June 22, 2018 - State opioid monitoring programs are not created equal
June 22, 2018 - Autistic teens who are bullied have higher rates of depression
June 22, 2018 - Penn Medicine team launches universal stroke awareness program
June 22, 2018 - Scientists discover the molecular trigger of necroptosis
June 22, 2018 - Researchers report unusually high levels of herpesvirus in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease
June 22, 2018 - Theoretical models predict how juveniles evolve to be more susceptible than adults to infection
June 22, 2018 - USC study reveals how the cell launches emergency response to repair damaged DNA
June 22, 2018 - $1.9 million grant aims to enhance behavioral health services in community-based settings
June 22, 2018 - New 3D imaging technique could improve arthritis treatment
June 22, 2018 - Cytokinetics Announces Data From Phase 2 Clinical Study of Reldesemtiv in Patients With Spinal Muscular Atrophy
June 22, 2018 - Polarized cells give the heart its fully developed form
June 21, 2018 - Stem cells appear to help fight obesity in animal models
June 21, 2018 - Harnessing Pediatric Cancer Genomic Data in the Cloud
June 21, 2018 - Training nursing students with cost-effective 3D-printed task trainers
June 21, 2018 - Study provides insight into how planned and spontaneous movements are processed in the brain
June 21, 2018 - Suicide Prevention | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
June 21, 2018 - From designer microbes to stem cells, researchers are investigating new strategies to treat bowel disease
June 21, 2018 - Study suggests state-of-the-art genomic testing for routine autopsy of stillbirths
June 21, 2018 - Christiana Care Health System opens first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Delaware
June 21, 2018 - CDC: Obesity Prevalence Higher in Non-Metropolitan Counties
June 21, 2018 - Youths Treated for Non-Suicidal Self Harm at Increased Risk of Suicide Within a Year
June 21, 2018 - WVU researchers increase colorectal cancer screening rates in West Virginia
June 21, 2018 - Pediatric kidney recipients often have subclinical inflammation
June 21, 2018 - OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director wins 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science
June 21, 2018 - Researchers study broader effects of neonics on wildlife
June 21, 2018 - Study provides new insight on how antibiotics affect the gut microbiome
June 21, 2018 - InHealth Technologies becomes exclusive distributor of RENÚ Voice, RENÚ Gel in the United States
June 21, 2018 - New analysis links higher BMI to lower breast cancer risk for younger women
June 21, 2018 - Interactive preclinical PET-MR workshop demonstrates benefits of multi-modality imaging
June 21, 2018 - Gene signature could improve early diagnosis of TB
June 21, 2018 - Psychiatric Drug Lithium Tied to Birth Defect Risk
June 21, 2018 - Preclinical study suggests ARID1a may be useful biomarker for immunotherapy
June 21, 2018 - Risks of cancer and mortality found to be lowest in light drinkers
June 21, 2018 - Fetal immune cells are fast-acting first responders to microbes in adulthood
June 21, 2018 - Researchers invent medical device for proliferation, differentiation of neural stem cells
June 21, 2018 - Study explores current understanding of human physiology, pathology, trauma and surgery in space
June 21, 2018 - Scientists explore interactions between chromosomes 12 and 17
June 21, 2018 - People with severe obesity constantly try to reduce or control their weight
June 21, 2018 - Relaxing ‘brain tingles’ may have benefits for both mental and physical health
June 21, 2018 - Breakthrough discovery reveals brain metals that may drive progression of Alzheimer’s disease
June 21, 2018 - New methods of fragment-based lead discovery to identify potential antibiotics
June 21, 2018 - Recovery and Treatment | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine
June 21, 2018 - Study finds cell-free DNA profiling as versatile method to monitor UTIs
June 21, 2018 - ‘Hidden’ driver discovered that helps prime the anti-tumor immune response
June 21, 2018 - Groundbreaking discovery could be key to preventing cancer metastasis
June 21, 2018 - Impulse control disorders found to be more common in people taking Parkinson’s drugs
June 21, 2018 - Study finds possible link between Type 2 diabetes and common white pigment
June 21, 2018 - Most emergency department patients wish to be involved in medical decision-making
Automated social media accounts can be dangerous to your health

Automated social media accounts can be dangerous to your health

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Fake social media accounts already have a reputation of swaying political discourse, but a Keck School of Medicine of USC researcher says these automated accounts are even more dangerous — they can be bad for your health.

Social bots are automated accounts that use artificial intelligence to influence discussions and promote specific ideas or products. USC researchers focused on how these bots promoted the notion that using electronic cigarettes helps people stop smoking, a conclusion not definitively supported by research.

Jon-Patrick Allem, lead author of the study, likened social bots to actress Jenny McCarthy and the “vaccinations cause autism” movement, an idea that has been debunked many times but still sticks.

“We now have measles outbreaks in Southern California because people shared personal stories about how vaccinations reportedly caused their child to have autism,” said Allem, a research scientist in the preventive medicine department of the Keck School of Medicine. “Social bots may not have the star power of Jenny McCarthy, but what they lack in fame, they make up for in quantity and determination. They are designed to promote a specific, slanted narrative — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance on Dec. 20. Allem and his colleagues analyzed about 2.2 million e-cigarette-related posts on Twitter from Dec. 24 to April 21.

The study is one of the first to document bots influencing unhealthy behavior, Allem said. Researchers found that social bots were two times more likely than humans to promote both new products and the idea that e-cigarettes empower people to quit smoking.

“Social bots can pass on health advice that hasn’t been scientifically proven,” Allem said. “The jury is still out on if e-cigarettes are useful smoking cessation tools, but studies have shown that the chemicals in vape juice are harmful. Scientists are still trying to understand if vaping damages the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Bottom line: Online falsehoods can influence offline behavior.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among children and teens.

Nearly 59 percent of adult e-cigarette users in 2015 were also traditional smokers, according to the CDC. Some 30 percent were former smokers, and 11 percent had never smoked.

Bot or not?

To compile their data, researchers crawled Twitter to pull out tweets that used key terms such as e-cigarette, vaping and ejuice. They identified human users from social bots by analyzing retweets or mentions, ratio of followers to followees, content and level of emotion. Then they used a “BotOrNot” algorithm as the final filter.

The researchers found social bots were more likely to post hashtags where people said they quit smoking as a result of e-cigarette use (#quitsmoking, #health). The bots also promoted new products.

Humans, on the other hand, were more likely to use hashtags referencing behavior (#vape), identity (#vapelife) and vaping community (#vapenation).

“Use of these hashtags may serve further internalization of, and social bonding around, vaping-related identities,” the study stated. “These hashtags also suggest discussions of vaping may occur in an echo chamber on Twitter in which ideas and beliefs are amplified by those in the network, normalizing vaping.”

To counteract the arguably unhealthy behavior social bots promote, Allem said public health officials and organizations need to bolster education campaigns. For e-cigarettes, that means campaigns highlighting the known hazards of e-cigarette use.

“There are many unhealthy choices social bots can promote, and our future research will focus on other areas such as tanning beds, supplements, fad diets or sugary drinks,” Allem said. “People need to be aware of these fake social media accounts, and public health campaigns should be implemented to counteract the most dangerous unhealthy behaviors these bots are encouraging.”

Source:

Fake social media accounts can be hazardous to your health

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles