The internet offers an enormous pool of information used by almost anyone nowadays, as it is easily accessible and can be retrieved any time. However, there is no guarantee of the authenticity of anything online unless it is backed up by research and the people behind it are credible. If we talk about medicines and valuable health information, you’d best be in your guard and check first the credibility of the site and the information before believing it.
For your safety, we have compiled here the questions and answers of how to confirm the authenticity of a site that you’re getting your health information about pills, shakes, etc.
- Who is running the website?
Any credible website will undoubtedly put the information of whoever is running them all over their webpages in order to be recognized. If you don’t see any, consider that as a warning sign and back off from that page or contact the website admin for more of his information. However, this could also be not really a suitable step to acquire credible data unless he can prove it.
- Who is paying for the website?
There is a cost of running a website, so finding how one is funded will be the key to figuring out if it’s credible because that can affect the quality of content, its presentation and purpose. If the website ends with a .gov, it’s funded by the government. Similarly, .edu sites are funded by educational institutions, .org mostly by non-commercial organizations and .com by commercial ones.
- What could be the purpose and intention of the website?
The source of the funds that makes the website up and running is the fundamental indicator of its purpose. If there is one available, you can also check out ‘About this site’ section of any website to further examine what it wants to accomplish. If it sells health products and services, you should check out other relevant and unbiased websites to double check as the information could be somehow manipulated to promote their products.
- Is the source of the information on the website indicated?
One thing you should look for in health websites is the origin of the information provided or any external links where it has collected the information from and put up in the site. If it’s not clearly indicated, perhaps the information is tampered.
- Are there any citations of research or studies to support the claims of the website?
Websites presenting health facts always acknowledge the research and clinical studies that prove these facts to be true and people behind the said studies are present in the website. The data and figures need to be cited with the works that they got the information from. This way, readers who want to verify the truth of the site can get the material and read it.
- Was the information reviewed by experts before they were posted? Are the names of these professionals included in the website?
Any website that presents health facts and research should include the information on the professionals who reviewed their content before putting it in their websites. You can then find out that the page is trustworthy since it has been reviewed by the experts.
- Is the information new and updated?
Since there are numerous discoveries and updates in any field of scientific research, websites should also put up the latest information or at least indicate that someone reviewed the content recently and left a review for some articles that were there for a long time. By doing this, readers can be given only the latest information about new medicines and prevention available for a certain ailment.
- How did the website master presented links to other sites?
Most of the health-related websites are quite shy to post links on their websites. It could be because they simply don’t want to as the other website has not met their standards appropriate for linking or because no one has paid them yet to post some links. Nevertheless, the links that they refer you to and the contents of those links could give you a hint if the site is credible or not.
- Do they ask for your information?
This is the most obvious way of identifying if the site is reliable aside from them telling you straight in the face that they’re fake. If they really are true, they would tell you in detail why they would ask for your personal details and how they would use it because other sites would only collect your data for personal interests or use it against you. Therefore, do not easily divulge any of your information unless you trust the website.
- How do the website managers interact with their readers and users?
When you submitted a suggestion for the website, did they consider it? Did they even read your suggestion? These things reflect the professionalism and the real character of the people working behind the website. If ever they host an online chat room, be sure to read previous chats to calibrate yourself if you want to join in or not.
- Would there be any way to verify the authenticity of the emails sent to you?
Read thoroughly the emails sent by any group of people advocating about health, and be very wary of their content and the purpose of writing. Some would just want to advertise their products without even backing up the information in the email with any valid studies.
- Are there any actions that the FDA currently takes to regulate and abolish misleading and false health claims on various websites?
The FDA is the one responsible for checking out the ingredients, labels and commercial ads of foods, including dietary supplements. As a part of their regulatory process, they conduct investigations on user complaints about misleading and false health or therapeutic claims of any websites online.
To conclude, though there are many fraudulent information in the internet, there are also some preventive measures that you can take in order to protect yourself from them and distinguish which sites give credible information. With the proper knowledge, you can roam safely online.