Sourcing reliable information on social media

THE WEB and online platforms are becoming increasingly important channels through which key scientific institutions and bodies communicate their findings, discoveries and knowledge.

But how do I know if the information I'm accessing is current, credible and reliable? What steps can I take to help assess the validity and suitability of the material?

Here are some simple tips for using social media as a source for health, medical and scientific information:

  • Identify, follow and source credible individuals and respected institutions in the relevant field 
  • Use interesting posts, feeds or tweets to prompt more thorough investigation and research 
  • Verify the legitimacy of externally linked websites or landing pages
  • Seek out and check references and citations where available
  • Verify if the presented information is valid, relevant and correct
  • If possible, look for any 'declarations of interest' in relation to who helped fund the production of the information
  • Check the ‘currency’ of the material – what is the date of publication, is it the most recent version?
  • Cross-check information against other authoritative and respected sources 
  • Assess the context in which the information is presented and received
  • Always seek contextually specific professional advice where appropriate

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. And seeking out and accessing current, credible and purpose-specific information is never in itself enough.

To make sense of, evaluate and act well on important life imperatives and information will always demand far more from us all.

 

Sourcing Tips